Saturday, 9 August 2014

Police (1985)

  'Police' is a 1985 French film directed by Maurice Pialat and starring Gerard Depardieu.

  Gerard Depardieu plays a policeman called Louis, who attempts to bust a Tunisian narcotics ring. However he falls for Noria, one of the drug traffickers girlfriend, and ends up protecting her, due to the wrongful accusation of theft.

  Depardieu and Pialat had four total collaborations, 'Police' being the first. Pialat has always been a director that is spoken about, but surprisingly few people have seen any of his films (his most voted film on IMDB has 2,500 votes). This is my first foray into his films, which seem to be recommended to me constantly. Gerard Depardieu, on the other hand, seems to be France's most known and loved actor. He may not have the charm that propelled so many actors to stardom, but he has an unparalleled screen presence and a humongous filmography. Ever since watching the brilliant (and actually quite depressing) 'Jean de Florette', Depardieu seems to continually surprise me, and this is no different here. The first ten minutes provides a level of acting rarely achieved in 1970s-80s cinema, with a intense atmosphere and lingering shots.

  'Police' is a crime thriller like no other. The documentary aesthetic, the naff 1980s mise-en-scene and the bland interiors makes the film unique. These points may sound negative, but they combine to create a realistic portrayal of 1980s police that is rarely shown. Usually you get ultra-stylised, minimalistic versions of police offices, but Pialat does the reverse, and creates an authentic setting and atmosphere, so life-like, its easy to forget that this is a film. The film was made half way through the 1980s, and thus, was doomed to be unforgivably naff. The awful hairstyles and the cringe-inducing clothes make an unwelcome return from Rohmer's naff films, but they rarely effect the film itself. Even if Depardieu's haircut is one of cinema's worst.

  Pialat has made the film his own, but he has made the experience of watching it far from enjoyable. The characters may be well developed, and the film is well crafted, however the film lacks structure, contains confusing storylines, and has more words per minute than any film I have seen. 'Police' is far from most people's safety zones, not only in it's content (sexism, nudity, police abuse) but also in what an audience is used to with a film. For example, the main protagonist Louis (Depardieu) is tough, arrogant, sexist and rude. Having a main character that is hard to sympathize with (no matter how well acted) will always irritate the audience. In many different aspects, the film proves to be well made, but so hard to like.

Incredibly well acted and directed, but really hard to "adore".