Movie Review: 'Polisse' -- 2 stars
Directed by Maiwenn
Starring Karin Viard,Joeystarr, Maiwenn
In French with subtitles
The French drama "Polisse" has the makings of a riveting, hard-hitting flick. It's centered on the grim pursuits of the French Child Protection Unit, the police division assigned to child abuse cases, and it's filled with scenes of cops of various backgrounds grappling with unimaginable horrors.
Yet filmmaker Maïwenn opts for a superficial ensemble approach that turns the movie into the cinematic equivalent of a TV serial, an episodic production filled with fractured compelling moments that don't add up to an engaging, unified whole.
The film meanders through endless interrogation scenes and one-note explorations of the various officers' fractured personal lives. It's filled with shocking dialogue and disturbing content, but treats it all in a strangely facile way. Except for the soulful work of rapper Joeystarr as the impassioned, idealistic officer Fred, a performance that gets at the unique importance of the CPU's work, the movie frames the unit and its officers as just another standard law enforcement institution.
There's one moment in "Polisse" that stands out amid the obsessive, fractured focus on day-to-day minutiae. A young boy is separated from his mother when the CPU can't find a shelter to take them in. As she walks away, he screams in sheer, unrelenting pain for what seems like forever, before Fred calms him down, comforts him and dries his tears. In about 60 seconds, Maïwenn evokes the essence of her movie with the sort of visceral, gut-wrenching force that's simply missing from the other cut-and-dry 126 minutes.