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Consciousness versus authority
© Giorgos Panagiotakis
First Publication: altcine 10/10/2010
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What is consciousness? What is morality? And above all, what connection do they have with organized society, with the state or with the police? These questions find answers in an extremely long take toward the ending of the film. This happens in the most precise and absolute way.
Cristi, the main hero, and police chief’s subordinate, is forced to read out loud the relative entries of the Romanian dictionary.

For the last eight days Cristi has been working on a routine case. He has been monitoring a young man, who is presumably selling dope at the local school, according to a police informer and fellow classmate. From the surveillance activities nothing of the sort is going on. However, even simple possession is severely punished in Romania. Cristi avoids arresting the boy not wanting to ruin his life for such a minor offence. He believes the law is unjust and may change from day to day. He wants to make sure that a real crime, the way he sees it, has actually been committed. His colleagues don’t share similar sensitivities. One of them spends his time reading the newspaper. Another goes for coffee during work hours. A third denies changing his schedule to help Cristi clear up the case. No one seems to care, and while the critical meeting with the chief is around the corner, the outcome of the tug of war between consciousness and authority is still undecided.

Images versus symbols

The visual style of the film is inextricably tied to the theme. There are a lot of static long shots. The point of view shots have been filmed with a hand-held camera. There are very few close ups and hardly any action. For example, we are shown the entrance of the house Cristi has been watching for a very long time. People come and go. Nothing happens. The film’s reflections are promoted through the internal rhythm and directorial tone. A more impressive example is the shot sequence of the meeting with the police chief. The surrealistic exchange of linguistic and conceptual comments between two police officers has a rare and intelligent counterpoint, having been shot in a dry, geometric and very realistic way.

Special emphasis has been given to the use of sound. The background noise coming from the streets and offices fills space and structures the geography of the scenes. There is no cinematic music. The only piece of music heard apart from the ending credits is a love song. This song in essence plays a consequential part of the film. Cristi’s wife is listening to it on Youtube. We listen to it with her, and at the same time follow a conversation that passes between the couple. He doesn’t understand why songs say one thing and mean another. His wife, a teacher, explains to him that is what symbolism means. After thinking about it for a while Cristi clearly states that he prefers images, in other words reality, over symbolism, which is exactly what Corneliu Porumboiu is trying to convey through his film…
  Police, Adjective
  Corneliu Porumboiu
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