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The daily grind for the cops of the Police Department's Juvenile Protection Unit - taking in child molesters, busting underage pickpockets and chewing over relationship issues at lunch; interrogating abusive parents, taking statements from children, confronting the excesses of teen sexuality, enjoying solidarity with colleagues and laughing uncontrollably at the most unthinkable moments. Knowing the worst exists and living with it. How do these cops balance their private lives and the reality they confront every working day? Fred, the group's hypersensitive wild card, is going to have a hard time facing the scrutiny of Melissa, a photographer on a Ministry of the Interior assignment to document the unit.
For more about Polisse and the Polisse Blu-ray release, see Polisse Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on May 15, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Karin Viard, Joey Starr, Marina Foïs, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Frederic Pierrot
Director: Maïwenn Le Besco
» See full cast & crew
Polisse Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 15, 2012
Winner of the Jury Prize for Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival, Maïwenn's "Polisse" (2011) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors TF1 Video. The supplemental features on the disc include a video interview with Maïwenn; short featurette; large collection of deleted and extended scenes, followed by a video commentary by Maïwenn; footage from Maïwenn's trip to Air Studios; and a selection of unedited scenes. In French, with optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
There are some interesting similarities between Maïwenn's third feature film Polisse and Xavier Beauvois' Le petit lieutenant. In the latter, an ambitious rookie cop joins a crime unit in Paris and his personal life immediately spins out of control. The rookie befriends his captain, a lonely alcoholic (played by the terrific Nathalie Baye, who won a Cesar Award for Best Actress) who helps him regain his composure, but a murder case rocks their relationship. The film is brilliant, one of the very best ever done about ordinary cops dealing with stress.
Maïwenn's film, which is based on real life cases handled by the Paris CPU (Child Protection Unit), follows a team of cops who each day arrest and register various abusers, rapists and pedophiles. The cops are from different social and ethnic backgrounds but share the same moral and professional standards. Similar to Le petit lieutenant, the focus of attention in the film is not on the cases the cops handle, but on their relationships and the manner in which they deal with stress.
The film is structured as a series of vignettes, each about a specific case handled by different cops. In the beginning of the film a photographer (Maïwenn) joins the CPU after she is granted permission to take pictures as the cops go about doing their jobs. For a while they barely notice her, but then a few become annoyed with the sound of her camera.
The majority of the cases are rather strange. There are men and women who clearly do not understand why they have been arrested and questioned. A Muslim man is picked up after he tries to arrange a marriage for his 14-year old daughter, but he has a difficult time comprehending his crime. In his country, he quietly explains, a lot of men do what he has done. There is another case about a mother who has been helping her son fall asleep with some truly disturbing techniques, but the cops are shocked to discover that the woman was never aware that what she was doing was a serious crime.
The raids, arrests, and questionings have dramatic effects on the cops and their personal lives. After a while every single one of them slips. Because of the ongoing stress they make crucial mistakes that irreversibly change not only their relationships with their lovers and husbands, but also the way they treat each other.
The film is completely free of melodrama. Portions of it are so rough and so direct that occasionally feel borderline offensive. Unsurprisingly, when some of the cops begin to collapse because of the tremendous pressure and stress their reactions look very authentic. The episodes with the lengthy exchanges with the victims also look chillingly realistic.
The French cast is excellent - Karin Viard (Le code a changé), Emmanuelle Bercot (Backstage), Nicolas Duvauchelle (White Material), Karole Rocher (How I Killed My Father), Joey Starr (L'immortel), and especially Marina Foïs (The Big Picture). There are also memorable cameos by Sandrine Kiberlain (Mademoiselle Chambon) and Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio (Loose Cannons).
Cinematographer Pierre Aïm's (La Haine) rough lensing (quick zooms and cuts, shaky camera moves) gives the film a very appropriate documentary look. Laure Gardette's editing is also excellent. Additionally, the film is complimented by a strong soundtrack courtesy of Stephen Warbeck (A View of Love, Billy Elliot).
Note: Last year, Polisse won the Jury Prize for Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival.
Polisse Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Maïwenn's Polisse arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors TF1 Video.
Shot with the Sony EX3 camera, Polisse looks excellent on Blu-ray. Despite the shaky camera movement, detail and clarity are consistently pleasing, even during sequences where natural light is restricted. Contrast is also stable, though it needs to be said that the entire film looks somewhat subdued, favoring warm and natural colors and toned down contrast levels. The most striking footage is with close-ups (see screencapture #5), where detail is indeed most impressive. Lastly, aside from one example of mild banding, there are no transfer specific anomalies to report in this review. All in all, this is a very strong presentation that should please fans of the film. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Polisse Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (with portions of Romanian, Italian, and Arabic). A DTS 2.0 descriptive audio track is also included. For the record, TF1 Video have provided optional English and French SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track is intense, but never overly aggressive. It opens up the film in all the right places and effectively enhances the gritty atmosphere. Surround activity is rather limited, but there are a few sequences where there is some decent movement. The dialog is exceptionally crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. There are no balance issues with Stephen Warbeck's soundtrack either. The English translation is excellent and free of grammatic errors.
Polisse Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Polisse Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Maïwenn's third feature film Polisse has some similarities with Xavier Beauvois' Le petit lieutenant, but it is like a rougher replica of Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine with cops (indeed, the film was lensed by the same cinematographer, Pierre Aïm). I thought that everything it wanted to show it did with impressive style and authority. It is well worth seeing, though it is definitely not easy to sit through. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of French distributors TF1 Video, looks and sounds great. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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