Running Length: 127 minutes
Cast: Karin Viard, Joey Stadd, Marina Fois, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Maiwenn
Screenplay: Maiwenn, Emmanuelle Bercot
Cinematography: Pierre Aim
Winner of the 2011 Cannes Jury Prize, Polisse (misspelling intentional) is an intense, emotional journey inside a Paris Child Protection Unit. Writer/director Maiwenn plays a photographer tasked with capturing the unit from the inside, and what she discovers is both more and less what we, the viewers, might expect.
Based on real life cases, the horrific nature of what these cops do is presented in a stark, no-nonsense manner. The film does not dwell on these people so much as the ways the cops deal with them. Any chance at laughter or light is grabbed at as a way to allay the darkness of what they see every day.
We see both the work-life and home life of these cops. Neither is happy. All the couples are either divorced or on the brink of it. The tentative romance between Maiwenn’s photographer and one of the cops feels doomed even as it starts and is the one misstep in this otherwise well crafted film.
Not a cheerful film, but an important one, Polisse had me crying one moment, laughing the next and completely open mouthed with shock at other times. Yes, it’s grim, and probably not comfortably viewing for anyone with children of their own, but there is a searing honesty about this film. Horrible as it may be, it is probably closer to the truth than we like to imagine.