Police, Adjective versus The Hunter

14 Nov

It’s official – Romanian films rock! After seeing the wonderful Tales from the Golden Age earlier this year, I’ve now fallen for Police, Adjective (Poliţist, Adjectiv). Both share a fascination with the nature of reality and the creation of meaning. And both reveal a strong sense of compassion toward their characters and society in general.

Director and screenwriter, Corneliu Porumboiui, explains, ‘I wanted to make a film about language, about its meaning or better yet, about its lack of meaning… At the end of “1 2:08 East of Bucharest“, there were a lot of different definitions of the revolution popping up. This time, I tried to find out was hidden behind words, how words can be interpreted, and how they imply lots of different points of view. The film culminates in a dramatic scene in which a Romanian dictionary is supposed to explain the meaning of “conscience,” “Iaw” and other key words in the story… only, it doesn’t.’

Police, Adjective, sets out to not only deconstruct language and the creation of reality but also the crime genre itself, creating in the process what Porumboiui describes as a’post-crime genre’ movie. One populated with characters you care deeply about, who are portrayed neither as innately good nor innately bad, but simply getting by the best they can.

Sadly, unlike Police, Adjective, which proves that films which portray reality in a realistic way don’t have to be boring, Iranian film The Hunter (Shekarchi), starring and directed by Rafi Pitts, failed to engage me in any meaningful way. There were just too many lingering shots of the hero looking… looking… well, haggard and unemotional. Both before and after he discovered that his wife and daughter had been killed in the cross-fire between police and insurgents.

There is one short attempt to provide some context and depth in the character of one of the policemen who catch up with him, but it’s all too brief and made little impression on our hero.

Sorry: I know it was nominated for the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival and many people loved it, but even at a mere 90 minutes it felt woefully overlong to me.

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