Police, Adjective

Cannes Film Fest 2009 (Certain Regard)–An offbeat Romanian police procedural, “Police, Adjective” is the follow-up to the highly acclaimed feature “12:08 East Bucharest,” by writer-director Corneliu Porumboiu, for which he won the Camera d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Fest.


Young detective Cristi (Dragos Bucur) is chasing a high school student, who's accused of being a pusher after sharing a joint with his friends. Though looking ordinary, Cristi is more educated and more sophisticated than his colleagues, having traveled to Prague for his honeymoon.  He's also more cautious than his peers, searching for harder evidence than the what's at hand, despite pressures from his superiors to close the case quickly by arresting the boy and throwing him into jail.


Among the stronger scenes in the film are encounters between Cristi and his wife, during which they argue about the spelling and meaning of words and symbols such as police force and the law.  It turns out that the Romanian Academy assigns great significance to word spelling. 


Though very much a character study, centering on the motives and moral dilemmas of one individual, “Police, Adjective” sheds light on the broader socio-political context of a society in a state of chaos and flux as far as ideology and values are concerned.


Static and low-key visually, the film calls for patience on the part of the viewers, but it pays off at the end.  Some critics complain about the minimalist feature, in both dialogue and production values, and yet I found it refreshing and occasionally even fascinating.