Cast: Karin Viard, Joeystarr, Marina Foïs, Nicolas
Duvauchelle, Maïwenn, Karole Rocher, Emmanuelle Bercot,
Frédéric Pierrot, Arnaud Henriet, Naidra Ayadi, Jérémie
Elkaïm, Riccardo Scamarcio
5 stars (out of 5)
Moved by a documentary about the French Child Protection
Unit (CPU), director-actress Maïwenn sought access to the
police officers to script a film based on their work. Casting
herself in the role of Mélissa, a photographer drafted to
create a photo essay on the CPU, Maïwenn has created a film so
real it is impossible to look away as one train wreck after the
other careers across the screen.
From an opening where images and sequences are slapped
together at a dizzying pace, it's obvious that the
film-making team is so confident in their narrative that they
cavalierly demand that their audience hang in for the ride.
Fortunately, the pace does level out, but the dynamic method
of jumping between characters, locations and personal dramas
helps reflect the chaos the CPU experience daily.
The police unit is like one big family. Often unable to
release the pressure accumulated after a shift dealing with
society's most unsavoury characters, the officers eat
together, drink together and fall into the arms of each
other. What pulls the whole thing together is phenomenal
acting. Working loosely from a structured script that was a
first for Maïwenn, the actors ended up improvising many of
the scenes based on an intensive pre-shoot workshop with
former members of the CPU. Polisse is such a masterstroke of
immersive cinema that it is near on impossible to tear your
eyes from the screen. Best thing: The camera work: it's
incredibly revealing but somehow unobtrusive.
Worst thing: The false endings.
See it with: A fastened seatbelt and a stiff drink.
- Mark Orton