Cornelio Porumboiu (Romania, 1975) debuted with
12:08 East of Bucharest (2006), named after the moment captured live
on television when the communist regime collapsed.
Politist Adjectiv/ Police Adjective (2009), filmed in a
sparse documentary style and set in a desolate urban landscape,
is the mundane story of a crisis of conscience.
Placed in the context of detective films, this film is the drama of a cop who
is not allowed to do the cop.
All he can do is waste his time and his talent pursuing a pointless case against someone who constitutes
no threat to society. None of the usual traits of detective films is present:
no shootouts, no car chases, no interrogations, in fact neither violence nor suspense.
The filmmaker makes sure that we perceive the protagonist's waste of time by wasting our time in lengthy takes about irrelevant facts.
This cop's job is neither glamorous nor corrupt, the two classic themes of detective films, both of which (despite being opposites) express the fact that the cop has no conscience, just a practical mission.
This is, instead, a case of conscience by a citizen who ponders about his role in society, and therefore there is no need for an archenemy or a horrible crime.
His real job, the job he invents for himself, is the job of critizing the
mindless bureaucracy that turns real lives into mere
linguistic affairs (his reports, his captain's definitions).
This is Kafka who refuses to live in an absurd Kafkian world.
There are two metaphors for this. The first one is the high-tech computer
in the cop's home that contrasts with the stone-age computer monitor in his
office (bureaucracy is stuck in an age that doesn't exist anymore while ordinary
people have moved on). The second one is the very tool that the superior uses
to fight the cop's conscience: an old-fashioned paper vocabulary.
Unlike Ionesco, who would have represented the senseless rules of society with
a senseless story, this director uses the barest os realistic techniques and
therefore enhances the awareness of the absurd.
The only problem with this poignant drama is that the rhythm of the film is
The country has a draconian law against drug use, even if the drugs are harmless
drugs like marijuana. An undercover detective, Cristi,
who has just returned from his honeymoon abroad,
is assigned the case of a kid, Victor, who
smokes marijuana. The detective has evidence that would send the kid to jail
for years but, knowing that in most countries abroad this is a trivial offense,
is reluctant to carry out the arrest. The country's
laws are obsolete and will soon change and he doesn't want to ruin the life of a
kid for a law that will change soon.
The one who informed the police about Victor is actually one of
Victor's friends, Alex. Cristi is suspicious of the motives of this kid for
betraying is friend and so he follows him home.
Alex lives in a nice, recently remodeled house, a sign of wealth, and quite
a difference from the working-class look of Victor (and of Cristi himself).
Cristi waits outside and sees Victor's girlfriend arrive.
When she leaves, Cristi starts following her. It's a long walk to a different,
much poorer, part of town. Back home, his wife Anca is watching a video of
a pop song on the computer's screen. They are a semiotic discussion on words
and images as symbols. She is the highly educated one, he objects with common
sense. The following day he completes the procedure for filing his report on
the case. He is avoiding his captain because he senses that the captain will
ask him to carry out the arrest. Cristi's last hope is to draw attention to
what could be a much bigger danger to the public: the dealer who brings the
dope from abroad. In his report he thus emphasizes that the girl's brother,
Iulian, who travels abroad all the time, could be the source of the drugs.
His wife has read the report and, over lunch, tells him that he made a
grammatical mistake, a highly technical issue that he can't even understand.
She is a teacher in the same high school where Victor and Alex go..
He is surprised to learn that there is an academy specifically to decide what is
As he waits for the meeting with his captain, Cristi is pensive and insecure.
The captain reads the report and orders him to arrest Victor. Cristi protests
that the kid would be unfairly punished while letting the dealer get away, and
that there is something suspicious about the fact that Alex squealed on his
friend. The captain responds by asking him to write down his definition of
conscience: Cristi writes that it's about not doing something that one will
regret later. Then the captain asks his secretary to bring a vocabulary and
tells Cristi to read the definitions of "conscience". He can now compare his
own definition and the one in the vocabulary: they are wildly different.
Then the captain asks him to read the definition of "law" and explains that
in order to avoid chaos the state make laws, otherwise each person would have
her or his own laws. And cops are there to enforce the law. The captain, playing
psychologist, tells Cristi that he has forgotten what he is: he is a police
officer, who has to enforce the law.
Cristi realizes that he has not choice but to do his job.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx) |
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