Polisse review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
Actress-director-writer Maiwenn inserts herself in her film ‘Polisse’ as Melissa, a photographer commissioned by the Interior Ministry to document the activities of its Parisian Child Protection Unit. Melissa becomes part of the milieu of officers of different personalities, temperaments, and backgrounds. She even finds herself an unexpected love interest in police officer Fred (rapper Joeystarr). But ‘Polisse’ is not about romance, comedy, and buddy cops – it’s really about the violence and abuse on Paris’ children and the emotions it incites among its case workers.
The grit in ‘Polisse’ is well-played; you see the harshness of the Paris neighborhoods and even the ruthlessness of sexual abuse between predator and prey. It’s disconcerting to have characters that are nonchalant about their wrongdoings: a father who commits incest with his young daughter and proud of it, an imam who has no qualms marrying off his underage daughter, and other young boys who both treat others like crap while they too are treated this way. ‘Polisse’ doesn’t sugarcoat criminality and immorality; it is prevalent in any modern society even supposedly posh and cultured Paris.
All the police officers in ‘Polisse’ inhabit their characters with ease, giving warmth, heroism, and irony to their performances. You can see that they love what they do but they hate that it’s happening. They understand that it’s reality but it doesn’t mean that they don’t wish it to stop. How the film is written whether with a working script or encouraging improvisation doesn’t matter. ‘Polisse’ essentially tells episodic and compelling stories that are truly worth viewing.
With such a heavy theme, ‘Polisse’ doesn’t veer away from the reality that such monstrosity could also be a source of comedy. Even the police officers can’t believe the lengths people would do for stuff (there’s a mobile phone situation.) That’s life, whether you blurt out a guffaw or nervous laughter, it’s inevitable. Underneath it all, writer-director-star Maiwenn doesn’t let go of a truth that’s universally known: Girls are easily targeted for molestation, violence, and abuse. No amount of child protecting by police could put a stop to it unless attitudes change all around.