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CIFF: Police, Adjective

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 14, 2009 5:20PM

2009_10_14policeadjective.jpeg This is part of Chicagoist's continuing coverage of the 45th Chicago International Film Festival.

Cristi is a young cop assigned to shadow a high school kid whose friend ratted him out for smoking up. Strictly small potatoes. Cristi would like to extend his surveillance in order to have a shot at catching the dealer, but the Captain wants to him to wrap things up quickly and bust the kid. Conviction of possession carries an eight-year prison sentence. And Cristi is convinced the laws on the books will be changed soon anyway.

That's only one of several ethical dilemmas Cristi faces in Police, Adjective, a slow motion police procedural shot through with streaks of dry humor. In his second film writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu, a member of the so-called Romanian New Wave, strikes gold. He stages the action in a mesmerizing series of extremely long takes. It's rare that a film doesn't just show you something but also allows to you watch something, to give you the time to dwell in the moment and contemplate what you're watching.

That may sound abstract. But it's the opposite. Watching Porumboiu's film is an immersive experience. Like the best movies, you're drawn into its world and the film gives you enough space to live there for a few hours. Somehow, it's riveting. And can you think of another film that hinges its climax on a dictionary? Essential CIFF viewing.

Police, Adjective screens October 17.