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cinemadaily | "Police, Adjective" Pulls Over US Audiences

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire December 22, 2009 at 6:26AM

Andrew Schenker, of Slant Magazine describes the Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu's new film "Police, Adjective" as two films, "varying significantly in their degree of success. For the first two-thirds of its running time, the film is a deadpan procedural with a moral undertone, sticking with a Bucharest cop through the generally monotonous process of staking out a perp. In the second and worse of the two strands, Police, Adjective becomes a semantic discussion, hashing out the implications of linguistic definition. This second, headier film makes various intrusions amid the first—usually played for comic effect—before taking over for the film's long climax, which amps up the moral seriousness and sinks Porumboiu's work into the realm of tedious academic exercise." Writing in the LA Times, Saul Austerlitz says, "There is, as it turns out, a very precise adjective Porumboiu...has in mind, and it is 'intermediate.'...[it] is a movie more interested in the spaces in between than the final destination."
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Andrew Schenker, of Slant Magazine describes the Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu's new film "Police, Adjective" as two films, "varying significantly in their degree of success. For the first two-thirds of its running time, the film is a deadpan procedural with a moral undertone, sticking with a Bucharest cop through the generally monotonous process of staking out a perp. In the second and worse of the two strands, Police, Adjective becomes a semantic discussion, hashing out the implications of linguistic definition. This second, headier film makes various intrusions amid the first—usually played for comic effect—before taking over for the film's long climax, which amps up the moral seriousness and sinks Porumboiu's work into the realm of tedious academic exercise." Writing in the LA Times, Saul Austerlitz says, "There is, as it turns out, a very precise adjective Porumboiu...has in mind, and it is 'intermediate.'...[it] is a movie more interested in the spaces in between than the final destination."

On indieWIRE, Anthony Kaufman says, "While the pay-off in this anti-police procedural comes very late, it caps a minimalist and sardonic tour-de-force from Corneliu Porumboiu, whose “13:08 East of Bucharest” won the award for best first film at Cannes in 2006. This worthy follow-up shows an even more discerning and confident eye from the young director. No one-hit wonder, Porumboiou confirms the promise of both the new Romanian cinema and his own status as a burgeoning world-class auteur. If several discerning critics have dismissed a number of Cannes competition titles, “Police, Adjective” has emerged as a favorite."

Reporting from Cannes, The Hollywood Reporter's Deborah Young assesses the film's prospects, "The promise of the whimsical title "Police, Adjective" is fulfilled at the end of this likable, cinematically sophisticated but slow-moving police procedural...Minimum action and dialogue make it a desirable festival item of uncertain commercial prospects, earmarked for patient art house viewers willing to hang around for long-delayed intellectual payoff." Variety"s Jay Weissberg notes the film's stylistic expertise, "The camera calls as little attention to itself as possible, generally maintaining (like Cristi) an observational stance. However, every inch of the frame contains something meaningful, as when the fixed camera holds onto the image of Cristi and Anca separated by a wall."

Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf thinks the film is absolutely nothing that makes the Romanian New Wave so valuable, "Police, Adjective—the shockingly dull jury-prize winner of 2008’s underwhelming Cannes slate—wants you to string all these banalities into a kind of truth, something about the deadendness of procedure. Yet the movie’s didactic mode is a killer, a sorry excuse for audience punishment to achieve modest ends. This is not what the new wave of Romanian cinema, never this underdramatized, has been about."

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