Mangin, a police inspector in Paris, leans hard on informants to get evidence on three Tunisian brothers who traffic in drugs. He arrests one, Simon, and his girl-friend Noria. Simon's brothers go to their lawyer. He springs Noria, who promptly steals 2 million francs that belong to the Tunisians. They suspect her of the theft; her life as well as the lawyer's is in danger. Meanwhile, Noria is playing with both the lawyer and Mangin's affections. Mangin is mercurial anyway: intimidating and bloodying suspects, falling for a police commission trainee before flipping for Noria, wearing his emotions on his sleeve. Can he save the lawyer and Noria, and can he convince her to love? Written by
Another underrated movie that's worth checking out....
Maurice Pialat's POLICE begins with an extensive interrogation by a cop... played by Gerard Depardieu. The shots almost exclusively flick back and forth in medium shot. To begin with, the criminal is defiant. But over the course of almost 10 minutes, he's slowly broken down into a confession. It's a fascinating scene to watch... and although it's not recreated directly throughout the rest of the movie (10 minute scenes with two shots would get tiresome quickly...), the mood of the opening scene permeates through the whole of POLICE. The movie is a slow breakdown of the facade people build around themselves.
Much of the dialogue seems improvised. Characters stumble over words, and get caught in seemingly unrelated conversations. The "Masters of Cinema" extras DVD catches Pialat berating actors on set... trying to pull something out of the improvisation. He was apparently a real pain to work for, but the end result seems to work in POLICE.
Depardieu is the centre of attention, playing the slightly shonky cop, Louis. He's hulking in size, 6ft tall and a pretty wide load, often towering over the bad guys and dwarfing the various girls he flirts with. At times, Louis is almost comedic, grabbing every ass around him. He thinks he's a whizz with the ladies and the greatest cop around... and because he throws his weight into it all, people believe him.
The depth of POLICE is we see Louis behind the charade, progressively doubting himself. He's falling in love with one of his suspects, Noria (played by Sophie Marceau, who ended up sinking into being a Bond girl in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH) and it's eating away at him. He's bending more rules than ever, and getting unnecessarily interested in a girl whose own family don't trust her. Louis becomes frantic, reaching out for prostitutes, drink and - eventually - frantically humping Noria in the Police HQ.
The strength of the movie - and whether you'll like it or not - revolves around Louis. He's very irritating at the start of the movie... a letch, an idiot, someone searching for reactions from people. He's sleazy and seemingly irremediable. Yet, at the movie goes on and as his vulnerabilities creep through, he becomes strangely likable. Can he trust Noria? Is she leading him on to save herself, or is she as lost as he is? So many films have predictable relationships but this one is a good 'un. We neither trust Noria or Louis, yet we feel sympathetic towards both of them. This all leads to a real doozy of an ending - and a thought provoking one too.
POLICE isn't a quick watch. It lacks dynamic scenes, and it's only for those who can take constant dialogue. It's also not a movie laden with style. But when close-ups are used, they're used to great effect. Louis's confused big-nosed mug... Noria's seemingly flawless good looks... something's going on behind those surfaces. You may gripe at the movie needing to be shorter and tighter, but it'll leave an impact because of these two fascinating characters. And, for that reason, it's well worth getting hold of a copy of POLICE.
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