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Review: Maiwenn’s ‘Polisse’

Review: Maiwenn's 'Polisse'

Winner of the Cannes 2011 Jury Prize and nominated for 15 César Awards (including two wins), child protection police ensemble “Polisse” offers masterful camerawork and acting, pitched at high energy and intense emotion. Actress-writer-director Maiwenn stars in the film as a photographer (above). The French trailer is below; Sundance Selects will release their English-language trailer next week to coincide with the film’s showings at both LA’s ColCoa French film series and the Tribeca Film Festival. The film will open in New York and Los Angeles on May 18, with a national rollout to follow.

This dense film covers an astonishing amount of ground, via multiple cops and cases. It’s like an entire season of a police procedural on speed and steroids. That’s both good and bad. While Maiwenn covers a lot of ground on the war between the sexes, generations and classes as well as established order vs. societal chaos, some scenes get short shrift. You feel the pressure these police are under, their need to release it–comedy relief is welcome–and the sacrifices they make for the greater good. The film is very real–and very grueling.

“A powerhouse of emotional jolts, freewheeling comedy and socially-minded storytelling, ‘Poliss’ (‘Polisse’) reps an admirable step up for writer-director-actress Maiwenn, and one which should finally expand her audience beyond French borders. This extensive portrayal of officers working in a Parisian Child Protection Unit is packed with raw energy and visceral performances from an accomplished cast, and despite an unwieldy episodic structure, the film touches where it matters most.”

“Crimes against minors, often vice-related, are the harrowing day-to-day reality of this motley group of cops, who face their work with a necessary dose of humor and the more-than-occasional breakdown. Though rough edges are very much part of pic’s fabric and charm, the current two-hour-plus edit is too choppy, with many sequences feeling rushed or underdeveloped,..As in her previous efforts, Maiwenn coaxes terrific, naturalistic perfs from her ensemble without eschewing the extreme emotional highs and lows that could have led to more caricatured turns.”

“With a very, very loose narrative structure — it’s practically non-existent — the film moves like a documentary, dropping in and out of cases and countering that with peeks into the personal lives of the cops as well,..the immediacy of the film lends itself powerfully to the sequences focusing on the myriad of cases that come through the CPU doors. You couldn’t think up the kind of stuff they deal with if you tried, but again, without realizing what she has, Maiwenn thinks she needs to put it over the top,..When the film is true to itself it works wonderfully.”

“All too often, the cast look like drama students put into some sort of group improv workshop and told to think themselves into the role of stressed cops. This means they shout at each other, and then they tell each other to calm down,..Some of the movie works: there is a scene that shows the officers – strained beyond endurance – laughing uncontrollably, and inappropriately, at some of the evidence. But elsewhere there are a lot of wrong notes and horrendous tonal misjudgements.”

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