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Set in 1950s Los Angeles, Richard Hudson (Warburton) is a shrewd car dealer who moves from San Francisco and sets up a used-car dealership. Tiring of this job, he turns the lot over to an ... See full summary »
Police Beat is a highly unconventional crime film in which the protagonist Z is so preoccupied with his possibly unfaithful girlfriend that he never once acknowledges criminal world that swirls around him. The crimes Z encounters become mirrors of the his turbulent inner state, allowing him to philosophize about his unstable romantic relationship as well as his own development as an emotional being. While Z's regular interactions are in English, his thoughts the film's narration are in his native Wolof, the primary language of West Africa. In this way, Police Beat is an unusual portrait of an immigrant new to the United States that focuses less on the protagonist's socio-economic difficulties than on his emotional responses to American life. Written by
A seven-day tour in the Delusional City of Grunge... on a bicycle.
I've always had a soft spot for offbeat film-makers, especially when their work shows a lot of eccentricity. Director Robinson Devor already manages to establish himself as such a film-maker with his debut film POLICE BEAT. It's a perfect example of how a good film often isn't exactly for the general crowd.
Expect a sort of docu-style work of fiction when entering POLICE BEAT. The plot forms an anecdotal whole where the bigger part of the screenplay is based on authentic police reports. The pivot character in all this, is protagonist Z. He's the red chord that connects all the unrelated events. Freshly imported from the dusty regions of Senegal, he already gets lucky when taking up on the opportunity to become a Seattle police officer. The only little catch is: Instead of getting a real patrol vehicle, his employers hook him up with a bicycle.
Z spends his time patrolling on his bike through town, checking out various complaints by citizens and misdemeanors in general, and the audience gets the chance to witness him do his job over the course of one week. Soon Z finds himself getting mixed up in numerous events that simply taunt all imagination. All possible criminal subject matters are featured in POLICE BEAT (theft, prostitution, drug delicts, murder, racism, you just name it). All characters he encounters, range from "slightly odd" to "completely insane". It sometimes gives POLICE BEAT a hilarious touch. It provides perfect counterweight to the movie's true nature: a profound portrait of a young man coming to terms with his strange new environment. His constant wandering thoughts about his lost girlfriend (is she ever coming back?) provide the other half of the movie's perfectly split personality. And strangely, it all works quite well.
POLICE BEAT also has a lot more cinematographic qualities than what you'd usually expect from this type of movies. There's no shaky camera or quickly spinning pov-shots when the spectator follows Z around on his bicycle patrols. Graphically, and regarding contents, a lot of images are so strong that they often speak for themselves. The opening-shot (the dead body of a man floating in the water) is already a nice example. And there's plenty more to discover during the movie. Some of them might even make you think and wonder about things. That's what I call a strong visual language, and also kudos to director of photography Sean Kirby for accomplishing great shots with limited resources (after all, this is an independent film). The photography and registrations are almost as cool as Z's philosophical reflections. Part of the movie features a lot of voice-over work, were we can here Z doing some monologues in Wolof (a native dialect from Senegal). They're often quite humorous (in a dry manner), and one of my favorites was hearing Z's amusing theories on 'problems'. And by the time that scene ended, he also managed to get rid of his own, personal problem (which had been haunting him throughout the whole movie) in an incredibly simple but highly efficient fashion. And there's more moments like this that might cause some chuckles. That one dude on his bicycle, for example, who openly admits he would kill the president if someone would give him the opportunity. So funny seeing Z straighten out that situation again with his sober ways. And then there was this naked woman running through the park, with Z chasing her on his bike... Just see this movie, you won't regret it.
With POLICE BEAT, Robinson Devor delivers an out of the ordinary, well-balanced picture. As much as it's rather serious, it can also get pretty absurd. With no real beginning and no real ending. If this debut film is a good taste of Devor's things to come, then I'm very much ready for a bigger piece of that cake. So I'm looking forward seeing Devor's second film, the controversial ZOO.
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