Police, Adjective is the story of Cristi (Dragos Bucur), a detective struggling with something of a moral dilemma in the city of Brasov, Romania. During the course of his daily routine, Cristi finds himself spying on a local teenager, and his two friends, experimenting with marijuana. In a sad sign of the war on drugs run amok internationally, Cristi is expected to follow the course of the investigation to gather enough evidence to put this “criminal” away for several years. “Nowhere in Europe do they arrest you for smoking a joint” Cristi tries to rationalize to his superiors who simply want to make the arrest to show that the system works. The message is clear; justice is served in quantity. His boss simply shrugs it off, stating plainly “Maybe a few attitudes will change, but the laws simply won’t.” An apathetic statement of “Besides, he will only get 3 years with good behavior” is the official justification.
The city of Brasov , which dates back to the 13th century provides a perfectly dingy gray backdrop replete with that certain “behind the iron curtain” shabby chic. Every artifact of modern culture seems to be coated with a greasy layer of grime and fingerprints, set against the background of hazy and overcast days in the urban jungle, to create a dark and stoic mood throughout the entire film.
The dialogue in this film is minimal. This allows the director to focus on telling the story with a certain sense of silent voyeurism. Cristi spends the majority of his time walking back and forth to strategic spying locations, chain smoking, trailing his unwitting suspects, and collecting leftover roaches as evidence for his case. The sensation of watching someone watching others seems to be a preoccupation of the film.
In many ways this movie is the antithesis of the typical Hollywood movie. No action from car chases. No violent fight scenes. Not one single gun is even glimpsed throughout the entire movie. And there is absolutely no sex. The buildup of drama in the movie is due largely to the apparent internal conflict of Cristi struggling with reconciling his role in the justice system, of his coming to terms with his existential turmoil. What I though was going to be a movie about the justice system and oppression turned into an examination of a different kind; an investigation of one’s roles conflicting with one’s philosophies. In the end, the investigation proposes the same question to the viewers in regards to “where does one draw the line”? Is it a matter of function or philosophy? And how do we reconcile the two?
RATINGS: 2.5 out of 5 stars
PRO: The grimy “Hill St Blues” cinematography is intriguing. The deliberate march towards solving the existential questions in the film is engaging on a cerebral level. I found the irony in the film engaging.
CON: The language barrier causes some of the finer complexities of the dialogue to become glossed over. Many film reviews pronounced the movie “an absurdist comedy” or “black comedy”. I found this to be a bit of a stretch. The slow pace of the film will be difficult for viewers with a short attention span