Depardieau, excellent as usual, is growing closer to his orgy-clause in the contract. It was probably my fault for not really following along with the plot, but that didn't matter much to me. Pialat's naturalism doesn't come in the way of any forward momentum, especially for a film about people in rooms talking to each other.
The unwieldy amount of dialogue in the first half is quite jarring considering it kicks off almost mid investigation, but it sets up Depardieu's bad cop, expertly on edge from start to finish. The second half of this two handed police-procedural-meets-romantic-melodrama eschews the procedural for an increasingly complicated romance between the two leads. Ends boldly, with an expert use of music.
At first Police is disarming for its sense of amorality, a genre exercise hollowed out because of the lack of principals for both cops and robbers. Their actions cruel but guided by a sense of dress-up which is shattered by (real?) intimacy. Pialat is an odd but terrific writer of characters, propelling films devoid of narrative drama that somehow take on tragic dimensions.
Disjointed, uneven, and an often nonsensical narrative is mirrored by performances that waiver throughout. Somewhat cliched, with cringe worthy dialogue, it's nevertheless an interesting period piece with regard to institutional racism and police brutality, and the commonplace casual racism and sexism that abounded at the time (not that it's vanished, but contemporary cop thrillers don't engage with such issues).
Pialat's themes of machismo and sex are at home in a Parisian police station. While some viewers may find offence at the way Arabs are portrayed, these characters are by no means caricatures! Depardieu is imposing as the pitiful Goliath, indulging in a web of lies but allowing himself to finally trust. Forget the police, the subplots and action - this is what the films about, so don't lose focus.
Depardieu as we all prefer to remember him - young, hungry; a tough exterior but vulnerable. Some compelling performances but this would have worked better today as a TV series 'flic'. More time for character development and sub plots. sadly the underlying racism would remain the same...
Un "film de genre" inhabituel chez Pialat, qui vaut le coup d'œil pour son trio Depardieu / Marceau / Anconina. On sait que le tournage a été difficile, surtout pour la pauvre Sophie que le méchant Maurice a rendu bien malheureuse (elle n'a pas non plus aimé les vraies baffes de Gégé)... mais le résultat brille par son réalisme. Hélas, un rythme inégal et de trop longs interrogatoires plombent l'ensemble... (3,5)
A film I have trouble reviewing, because it does not have any hallmark or superior element I can hang my hat on and point to. A film that's well-made, but not well-made toward any aim I can easily decipher. I'm sure if you squint hard enough, there's more to be found.