Polisse

Overview

An outsider becomes a witness to the shocking and sometimes chaotic world of a special police force in this drama from writer and director Maiwenn. The Child Protection Unit is a team of police officers who deal in cases that involve minors, and an ordinary workday finds them dealing with child abuse, youthful thieves, molestation, teen prostitutes, and families on the run from the law. The work is emotionally taxing, and the members of the Child Protection Unit count on each other for support, though they often ...
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Overview

An outsider becomes a witness to the shocking and sometimes chaotic world of a special police force in this drama from writer and director Maiwenn. The Child Protection Unit is a team of police officers who deal in cases that involve minors, and an ordinary workday finds them dealing with child abuse, youthful thieves, molestation, teen prostitutes, and families on the run from the law. The work is emotionally taxing, and the members of the Child Protection Unit count on each other for support, though they often have issues with one another as well. Nadine (Karin Viard) has a close friendship with Iris (Marina Fois), but in the wake of her divorce, Nadine has becomes jealous of her work partner, which sometimes explodes into vicious arguments. Chrys (Karole Rocher) has just discovered she's having a baby, complicating her relationship with Mathieu (Nicolas Duvauchelle), who is secretly in love with her. And Fred (Joeystarr) is going through a messy divorce that has taken him away from his young daughter, making him volatile and high strung, and while the group leader Balloo (Frederic Pierrot) tries to cover for him, his behavior is hard to explain to those outside the unit. This becomes clear when Melissa (Maiwenn), a photojournalist, is assigned to follow the men and women of the CPU for an upcoming magazine piece and becomes part of their dysfunctional family. Poliss (the title comes from a child's misspelling of the French word for "police") received a Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for fourteen Cesar Awards (the French Oscar), winning two.
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Special Features

Bloopers; Deleted Scenes; Interview with Director Maïwenn; We're Off to Cannes! (Behind the Scenes of Polisse); Scoring the Film with Composer Stephen Warbeck; Featurette; Trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Actress-turned-director Maïwenn's contemporary drama Polisse builds a tapestry of intertwined narrative strands from events impacting the Child Protection Unit of the Paris Police Force -- versions of which we are told at the outset actually transpired in real life. Maïwenn establishes and follows 8-10 characters -- officers who systematically investigate crimes including child molestation, rape, child pornography, and like social ills, while juggling personal issues such as marital breakups, infidelity, and heartfelt concern for their own children. Taken on a per-sequence basis, the picture works beautifully. Appropriately enough for the subject, a number of scenes deliver an emotional impact so jarring that we're left reeling with shock, disgust, and incredulity in equal measure. For example, Maïwenn achieves excellence in a mesmerizing substory where a female officer glimpses a woman violently shaking her baby, then brings her in -- only to hear this depraved mother's nonchalant, remorseless description of how she induces her child to sleep. And many of the officers' personal sagas come off engrossingly, particularly one involving Fred Joey Starr, an agent of North African origin who falls for a photographer assigned to the unit Maïwenn and gets slowly drawn away from what appears to be a happy marriage. When one looks at the movie as a whole, however, it grows more problematic. Maïwenn's chief influence in this picture seems to be Robert Altman -- and like Altman, she wants to push conventional drama beyond the boundaries of traditional narrative structure, into the realm of pseudo-documentary. So some threads get followed, others get dropped after a while, and still others only turn up for a minute or two. And on top of this, Maïwenn never really sustains themes, but instead keeps flecking them onto the screen, right and left, as if she's decorating a graffiti-covered wall of paint. For instance, at the outset she sets up a discussion between an officer and a little girl, who claims that her daddy "scratched [her] on the bottom." As the agent questions the child further, the exact nature of what happened grows less and less obvious in our minds. It's an enthralling conversation, but our natural assumption that this theme of ambiguity will recur throughout the movie is false. In fact, many of the criminals who are subsequently brought in such as the vile mother confess so definitively and so shockingly that Maïwenn appears to have suddenly lurched to the other end of the thematic spectrum. Polisse's looseness may give it a unique aura, but it is also the film's Achilles' heel: the casually-strung thematic quality and the rambling Altmanesque story compound each other's weaknesses. The film could do with either, but if there is a way to pull off both, Maïwenn doesn't quite find it here. On a surface level, the picture that Polisse recalls most is Sidney Lumet's masterful Prince of the City, which is also about detectives and also has the same sort of ambling quality, but for all of its narrative experimentation, that film feels thematically cohesive -- this one is all over the map. We keep waiting for some satisfying apotheosis that never really arrives. Admittedly, Maïwenn must have recognized the need for this, for in a final scene, she feebly attempts to summarize the role of the officers who have taken center stage by cross-cutting between a station meeting and a molestation victim. But the metaphor inherent here is too heavy-handed and precious to really work. Still, despite Polisse's undeniable flaws, the film does unveil the full breadth of Maïwenn's dramatic ability within individual scenes, and the height of her ambition per se -- both of which are staggering. One walks away longing to know more about all of the characters -- even the incidental ones -- and wishing that some enterprising French producer would option the material for a multi-season television series. In other words, we care deeply, even though we aren't fully satisfied by the scope of what we've seen.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/30/2012
  • UPC: 030306982090
  • Original Release: 2011
  • Source: Ifc Independent Film
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 2:08:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 57,520

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Karin Viard Nadine
Joey Starr Fred
Marina Fois Iris
Nicolas Duvauchelle Mathieu
Maïwenn Melissa
Karole Rocher Chrys
Emmanuelle Bercot Sue Ellen
Frédéric Pierrot Balloo
Arnaud Henriet Bamako
Naidra Ayadi Nora
Jérémie Elkaïm Gabriel
Riccardo Scamarcio Francesco, Fransesco
Sandrine Kiberlain Mme de la Faublaise
Vladimir Yordanoff Beauchard
Louis-Dominique de Lencquesaing M. de la Faublaise
Laurent Bateau Herve
Riton Liebman Franck
Carole Franck Céline
Anne Suarez Alice
Anthony Delon Alex
Audrey Lamy Disgraced Mother
Sophie Cattani Drug-addicted Mother
Martial Di Fonzo Bo P.E. Teacher
Lou Doillon Sister Melissa
Technical Credits
Maïwenn Director, Screenwriter
Pierre Aïm Cinematographer
Xavier Amblard Production Manager
Yvan Attal Producer
Emmanuelle Bercot Screenwriter
Jowan le Besco Camera Operator
Marite Coutard Costumes/Costume Designer
Emmanuel Croset Sound/Sound Designer
Nicholas de Boiscuille Production Designer
Rym Debbarh-Mounir Sound/Sound Designer
Yan Dedet Editor
Laure Gardette Editor
Frederic Gerard Asst. Director
Claire Mathon Camera Operator
Sandy Notarianni Sound/Sound Designer
Nicholas Provost Sound/Sound Designer
Nicholas Ronchi Casting
Stephen Warbeck Score Composer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Polisse
1. Opening Credits [12:51]
2. Cook Something Up [8:05]
3. Out With Mommy [13:51]
4. Way Too Easy [11:17]
5. Very Thirsty [8:12]
6. Wanna Dance? [10:33]
7. Somewhere Warm [5:53]
8. Calm Down [15:31]
9. A Little Girl [9:30]
10. Pack And Go [5:15]
11. Love Me A Bit [6:54]
12. Ending Credits [7:04]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Polisse
   Play
   Chapters
   Bonus
      Bloopers
      Deleted Scenes
      Interview With Director Maïwenn
      We're Off To Cannes! (Behind The Scenes Of Polisse)
      Scoring The Film With Composer Stephen Warbeck
      Featurette
      Trailer
   Setup
      Subtitles
         English
         Spanish
         Subtitles: Off
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