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Police Beat (2005)
Forget it, Jake. It's Seattle.
I'm a crime film fan. This is not a crime film. The crime in this film is not a part of the plot, but rather a part of the setting.
The film is about an immigrant, far from his family, struggling to deal with the complex rules of 21st century American love. His heartache is the constant foreground of this movie, displayed as internal monologue in Wolof and written as English subtitles. The criminals and victims we see provide a lurid backdrop for his despair.
The filmmakers have created a Seattle here that is so beautiful and intricate that it becomes a de facto character in the story. Seattle demands his constant attention, but his thoughts always drift to his absent girlfriend. While investigating a murder threat, he asks to use the victim's phone so he can check for messages from her.
The movie is a wonderful twist on past and present police procedurals. Z is the opposite of Joe Friday, that crime-solving automaton from Dragnet. Z finds common-sense solutions to Seattle's problems, ending most of his reports with "investigated and released." The movie is very funny in subtle ways: the inanity of the criminals and victims, the general goofiness of Seattle, and Z's own saddle-sore walk that recalls at once both John Wayne and Barney Fife. Beckoning a confused old man out of Elliot Bay, Z tells him, "You must come out of the water. This water is for ships, not for humans." If you've been frustrated in love, it will be easy for you to identify and root for Z. He wants to put her out of his mind, but he just can't.