This was another film that I almost was going to pass on seeing, but again, I was very glad that I didn’t. The film follows the Child Protection Unit of the French Police Force, as we see them go about their daily lives, both at work and at home. The film is fiction, all of the characters are made up, but it states at the beginning of the film that all of the cases that happen in the film were ones that the real CPU handled. This statement is incredibly disturbing because some of the things that these people deal with (on a daily basis, no less) are just so shocking and horrific. In fact it is a job that I have no idea how anyone would be able to tolerate or cope with for an extended period, because they are regularly dealing with rape, molestation, pedophilia and things of that nature, but all the victims are minors. As the film shows, it is hard to cope and most of the character’s personal lives suffer because of it, as it is a job that they cannot bring home with them and share with their loved ones. The result of this is that they must keep it all bottled up until it eventually explodes. Some of the cases you see in the film just make you so angry.
The film doesn’t follow a normal narrative structure, it is more of a fly-on-the-wall kind of experience. This helps the film considerably because it makes it feel all the more real. “Polisse” was directed by French actress Maiwenn (Le Besco), (who is probably best known to everyone as the blue-alien opera singer in Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element”) who also appears onscreen as a photographer who goes around with the CPU to take photographs for the purpose of a PR exercise. She does an amazing job as she creates a very real and honest atmosphere, she is not sentimental, and she doesn’t appear to be trying to make any specific point. What she is trying to do and succeeds in doing so is to paint an accurate portrayal of what the CPU does and what it takes to do the job and remain sane at the same time. One aspect of the film that I found interesting was the fact that the other departments within the police force seemed to look down on the CPU as if they were of a lower class, and their level of importance within the force appears small. This is shocking and as one of the characters says in the film “It’s only a kid in trouble, but if narcotics needs a car, let them take it”. The fact that children in immediate danger doesn’t seem to be of high importance is just so wrong. Another aspect this is explored is the politics involved both within the force, and from external forces.
Overall, I was really impressed by “Polisse” and more than a little disturbed. It is a well acted film from a great ensemble cast, which always seems rooted in a very sad reality. It is a fine achievement for its brave director, Maiwenn.