Police, Adjective - DVD Review

'one-hundred minutes or so of mind-numbing waiting'

In one fifteen-minute long scene at the end of Police, Adjective, writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu manages to summarise his message, his film's title and the overall reason for its existence. Its a scene that's infused with wit, with a knowledge of the genre his movie purports to move in and with an adept skill at intelligently written satire. It's just a shame that, for this scene to work, we have to sit through one-hundred minutes or so of mind-numbing waiting. And that, let me tell you, is a lot of waiting.

Policeman Cristi (Dragos Bucur) is tracking a student suspected of dealing drugs to his two friends. We watch Cristi as he follows the student around town (mostly the bleak but well shot Vaslui in the film's native Romania). We watch Cristi as he watches the student smoke 'hashish'. We watch Cristi waiting for another suspect to leave his house. We watch Cristi as he returns home and eats his dinner for God's sake. We basically watch Cristi do everything and anything, little of which is of any interest, all of which is mundane and docile.

That this may well be the film's point is all well and good but watching nothing happen for one-hundred minutes just doesn't make for engaging cinema. Nor, does it make for an original concept. Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot famously made an entire play from the concept of waiting and was described on release as 'the play where nothing happens twice'. In Beckett's drama though, there's constantly funny dialogue, several colourful side characters and a general feeling of interest, which Police, Adjective struggles to create.

There are moments, prior to the fantastic final scene where Porumboiu's satirical script burbles to life but they're few and far between and the majority of the film is composed of dialogue-less images of Cristi. It's a concept which defines the film; honest, proud, even clever but even more so isolated, lonely and overbearingly cold.

Look further...

'a captivating tale about the battle between duty and conscious' - A Life In Equinox, 7.75/10


  1. I enjoyed this quite a bit more than you, but there's no denying it's a bit of a chore to get through. I watched it at the behest of brian (of brian's film reviews) who adores this movie. I get that it's a satire, but I'm never certain it's aware of when it's trying to be and when it wants to be taken seriously.

  2. That was the same reason I watched it really although it has had a few positive reviews and I probably would have grabbed it anyway. I liked the little bits of nippy dialogue and the last scene in particular but I just can't recommend a film where we spend what must be 5-7 minutes watching a guy eat his dinner and the same length of time watching him drink a cup of tea by a concrete pillar! For me, that just wasn't worth the bits I enjoyed.