Film Review: POLISSE

I was blown away by this gritty and intense French film ...Naomi Rossdeutscher

POLISSE is an extraordinary film and one of my favourites screening at the Sydney Film Festival, making me want to see more of Maïwenn's films.


POLISSE follows kick ass cops in a Child Protection Unit in Paris, investigating pitiless crimes while fighting bureaucracy in their workplace and struggling with chaotic personal lives. They work together, party together and fight with each other.

Chock full of energy, it makes the common police procedural look a little snoozy in comparison. Here the cops are pushed to breaking point at work and at home. Suffering grave disappointments, their angst ridden, dysfunctional lives are lived with passion and hope, but when they bust it's exhilarating to watch.

There is no shying away from the subject of child protection, the interrogations are personal, direct and confronting and the painful delusions and frustrations are clear, evoking real pathos.

The female characters were as ballsy as the men and they don't hold back with their opinions during interrogations, when tempers fly, as does the rapid-fire dialogue. I had to read the English subtitles like a speed demon, but it added to the experience. During one of the interrogations, a Cop gets so riled; she leaps out of her seat and gives a verbal 'kick-ass,' backed up by her entire team. It was a beautiful moment, I wanted to leap from my seat and shout 'you go girl!'

The director, co-writer and actor, Maïwenn Le Besco, plays a photographer tagging along to document the team in action. She finds romance and adds warmth and humour where it's needed.

Festival Director Nashen Moodley and POLISSE Director Maïwenn. Photographed by David Clare

The graphic doco style look of the film usually puts me off unless the script is amazing. And in this case it is, plus the performances are very real. Maïwenn knows when to hold a moment, as in a scene when a mother wants to give up her child because she can't look after him, causing a tearful breakdown on screen and in the audience.

The movie pinpoints shocking, realistic struggles, where high pressured jobs infect private lives and deals with grim realities, managing to be poignant, tragic and funny. There is nothing predictable here, especially the ending, but you will have to see the movie to know what I mean. The ending worked really well for me because I believed it.

POLISSE - a winner of the Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for 13 César Awards


Director: Maïwenn

Screenwriters: Maïwenn and Emmanuell Bercot

Producer: Alain Attal

Cast: Karin Viard, Joey Starr, Marina Fois

Distributor: Curious Film