This year’s Cannes competition line-up includes four films directed by women among the 20 entries. Woo-hoo, that’s 400 percent better than last year’s ratio!
Voilà, that’s the thing I love. On the other hand, I didn’t love the third distaff entry (after Sleeping Beauty by Julia Leigh and We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lynne Ramsay). Polisse (in French) or Poliss (in English) is, either way you spell it, the awkward title, based on a child’s misspelling, of a new, sub-par spin-off of Law & Order: Child Protection Unit. At least, it could be. The poliss in this disorderly episodic drama tackle child abuse and pedophilia cases, some ripped from actual cop files by French mono-monikered actress-director Maïwenn. And they’re a tight bunch, these coppers: Theoretically, they’ve got private lives, but they’re more tightly entwined with one another than with their own families. Forget about one-on-one professional partnerships — this crew all work in the same bullpen, participating in Miranda Rights-free interrogations and regularly becoming emotionally involved in their cases. Their station-house tactics with the accused include screaming, bullying, and mocking. Then they enjoy disco night together.
The filmmaker’s notions of comedy and satire are occasionally clear in her assemblage of situations. But the laughs sit uneasily with social-justice-pitched scenes of a raid on a Roma trailer camp, the heartbreaking protective removal of a child from his homeless mother, or the sight of a mentally unstable mother dropping her infant on the sidewalk.
By the way, Maïwenn, well known in France for her mockumentary The Actress’ Ball, plays a photographer embedded with the unit. Shy and awkward at first, she blossoms when she falls for one of the poliss, played by similarly mono-monikered French rapper Joeystarr. Naturally, as a sign that she has loosened up, she removes her librarian eyeglasses and shakes her long, lustrous hair loose from its granny topknot.
Next thing to love: Fellini meets The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie on the streets of Cannes.
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