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Police, Adjective (2009)

Politist, adjectiv (original title)
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A police officer refuses to arrest a young man for offering drugs to his friends.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dragos Bucur ...
Ion Stoica ...
Irina Saulescu ...
Cerasela Trandafir ...
Marian Ghenea ...
Cosmin Selesi ...
Serban Georgevici ...
Adina Dulcu ...
Dan Cogalniceanu ...
Costi Dita ...
Officer on Duty
Alexandru Sabadac ...
Anca Diaconu ...
Radu Costin ...


In grim, dull Vaslui, Cristi is a young police officer, conscientious, laconic, recently married to Anca, a teacher. He's tailing a kid who smokes pot and may be supplying his friends. Cristi dislikes the assignment: the kid's clearly not a dealer, an arrest would ruin his life, and, Cristi assumes that Romania will soon tolerate marijuana. His superior tells him flatly that the law is the law and to finish the case with a quick arrest. Cristi wants to follow the informant, a youth whose father is a builder. Cristi watches, he smokes, he writes reports, he wants to meet with the prosecutor. Can a cop have a conscience? Is the noun being modified "procedural" or "state"? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Crime | Drama


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Official Sites:



Release Date:

3 July 2009 (Romania)  »

Also Known As:

Police, Adjective  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$19,452 (USA) (25 December 2009)


$48,298 (USA) (1 January 2010)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Romania's official submission to 82nd Academy Award's Foreign Language in 2010. See more »


Nu te parasesc iubire
Performed by Mirabela Dauer
Arranged by Dan Dimitriu
Lyrics by Dan Ioan Pantoiu
Produced by Roton Music
Played and discussed at Cristi's home
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User Reviews

Provides a welcome dose of conscience
19 October 2009 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Like Bruno Dumont's epic police procedural L'Humanité, Police, Adjective is a film of mood, silence, and soul. Winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, the second feature by Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu is a follow-up to his black comedy 12:08 East of Bucharest which won the Camera D'Or at Cannes in 2006. Police, Adjective is about a taciturn, plain-clothed police officer who has developed a conscience over making an arrest, an unusual occurrence in the bureaucratic, post-Communist society of Romania where the law is rigidly enforced regardless of its logic. Like Phaaron of L'Humanité, Cristi (Dragos Bucur) is an unlikely cop, an unglamorous member of the working class who wears the same pullover sweater four days in a row and goes about his job in a mechanical and emotionally unexpressive manner.

Shown at the Vancouver Film Festival, Police, Adjective is set in the director's hometown of Vaslui in northeastern Romania, a venue that looks unbearably bleak. The general atmosphere is one of decay with paint inside the houses peeling and chipped, lockers rusted, mailboxes broken, and computers looking like Model Ts. There are no camera tricks here, only long takes delivered from a horizontal pan, cinematography that deliberately enhances the tedium. Porumboiu devotes long stretches of the film watching Cristi simply going about his routine. On orders from his superior, Nelu (Ion Stoica), he follows Alex (Alexandru Sabadac), a teenager at the local high school who is suspected of buying hash and selling it to his fellow students, shadowing the boy daily from home to school in hopes of finding out the source of the drugs.

In the course of his investigation, however, Cristi realizes that Alex is just a kid who occasionally smokes pot with some of his pals and is not a threat to society. Taking detailed notes, Cristi avoids meeting with his boss, waiting to find out the source of the hash before making a move, knowing that arresting a sixteen year old boy for smoking will mean a prison term of at least three years and possibly seven. Finally, when he is ordered to make a full report and take action, Cristi refuses to follow orders from the Police Captain, citing his conscience and the fact that the law will soon be repealed. Like Phaaron of L'Humanité, Cristi is willing to remain faithful to what he believes in but his feelings are ignored by those in a position of power.

In a memorable sequence, Cristi's boss, Captain Anghelache (Vlad Ivanov) brings in a Romanian dictionary and asks him to look up the meaning of the words "conscience", "law", "moral", and "police", attempting to show him that as a police officer he must obey the letter of the law, not impose his own morality on the situation. The scene is cold, efficient, and persuasive but it is obvious that the law he is asked to follow is based more on semantics than on morality. While most of the first half of the film is filled with uneventful surveillance, a scene at home between Cristi and his wife Anca (Irina Saulescu) adds some humor to the dour proceedings. Husband and wife discuss the meaning of the lyrics of a popular song that Anca is playing over and over again, Cristi giving the words a literal meaning which make little sense, while his wife ascribes to them their proper symbolic and poetic meaning.

Police, Adjective provides a welcome dose of conscience to a genre that has been buried in technology and filled with violence, car chases, and ugliness, a genre that has dealt only with methods and not consequences. While the film is austere and requires a great deal of patience, with little dialogue and no musical score, Porumboiu forces us to relate to the characters by observing their eyes, their physical movements, and their facial expressions. He expects us not only to see but to think about what we are seeing and, in the process, to bring us face to face with what makes us truly human.

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