A Crisis Of Conscience In Police, Adjective

A Crisis Of Conscience In Police, Adjective

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Artificial Eye 

Release date: February 14th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 113 minutes

Original language: Romanian with English subtitles
Country of origin: Romania

Year of production: 2009

Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
cast: Dragoş Bucur, Vlad Ivanov

This Romanian film, written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu explores the fine line between following the law and following what you believe to be the right thing to do. Sometimes the two are not necessarily the same.

Christi (Dragos Bucur) is a plain clothes police officer tracking a group of high school kids suspected of dealing drugs. His days are spent following them around the streets of Vaslui and keeping a close eye on their activities, but when he sees they’re only involved in smoking hashish he becomes reluctant to make an arrest that could affect the rest of their lives.

Police, Adjective

When Christ goes home after these stakeouts, he has long heated debates with his wife, a school teacher, over trivial matters such as the meaning behind a song on the radio she’s listening to.

Back at work, his superior, Captain Anghelache (Vlad Ivanov), is pressing him to make an arrest and get the case closed, but Christi is facing a crisis of conscience; to follow the law and ruin the lives of these kids over something so petty or to disobey and face the consequences of those actions.

He pleads for leniency towards the kids but Anghelache has an altogether different idea about morality and this culminates in a tense debate that involves a dictionary and clarifying the meaning of words such as “law” and “police” so that Christi’s confusion can be resolved. Ludwig Wittgenstein would be proud.

Police, Adjective

Although watching Police, Adjective is at first like being on a stakeout – there are long moments of watching and waiting for sometime to happen as we follow Christ, following the kids – the film has a lot to say when it decides its time to say something.

Porumboiu takes us through the streets of Romania and through the legal jungle where bureaucracy is the big cat running a system which aims to keep society in order, but at the same will penalise even for the smallest offences. Arbitrariness, together with dialectics and semantics are also prevailing themes here as Porumboiu sets up a story that demands your patience and attention but promises a conclusion that’s fulfilling on a level so entertaining and intellectual that I’ve rarely seen it in films.

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