Police, Adjective

Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu

Romania, 2009

Color, 115 minutes

Cast: Dragos Bucur, Vlad Ivanov, Ion Stoica, Irina Saulescu, Cerasela Trandafir, Marian Ghenea, Cosmin Selesi, Serban Georgevici, George Remes, Adina Dulcu, Dan Cogalniceanu, Costi Dita, Alexandru Sabadac, Anca Diaconu, Radu Costin, Viorel Nebunu, Emanoela Tigla, Daniel Birsan, Bungeanu Mioara

Awards: Grand Jury Prize and FIPRESCI Prize, Cannes Film Festival

The dull, old communist-era scenery of Vaslui is the backdrop for police officer Cristi’s predicament when confronted with a new problem: drug use among high-school students. Perhaps the most humanizing portrayal of authority in Romanian cinematography so far, Corneliu Porumboiu’s Police-Adjective lacks the absurd-situational humor of 12:08 East of Bucharest; instead it opens up universal questions about the use of power: who makes the rules, for whom, and how much (or how little) we can do when confronted with the cracks between reality and the letter of the law.

Generational differences cut across the traditional “policeman-suspect” relationship and emphasize the difficulty of challenging powerful and sluggish bureaucracies. The finale leaves the door open to interpretation; however, considering the baggage of ridicule and derision that the concept of “conscience” accumulated during decades of communism and post-communism in Romania, officer Cristi’s dilemma is a breath of fresh air.

Veronica Szabo