Polisse | Movie review
French actress Maïwenn makes a sitcom about child endangerment.
Critics reviewing Polisse have routinely compared it to American cop shows, but that’s the wrong analogy. The film is closer to In the Loop, and at times even a straight-up sitcom, that just happens to be set within the Child Protection Unit of the Paris police.
If lightheartedness strikes you as an inappropriate, trivializing tone for a movie about child abuse, it’s not entirely clear to what degree French actress-turned-director Maïwenn intended it. Alternating roughly scene for scene between the officers’ absurdly easygoing interrogations and tidbits from their personal lives, Polisse rarely seems eager to dwell on the horrors these characters face every day. The cops stare in disbelief at a mother who confesses to giving hand jobs to her kids; a minute later, one of them is going over the banal details of her divorce. The whole unit parties at a disco after receiving news that a baby has come out of a coma. They’ve become so desensitized they actually say things like “We need help with a screwed-up reverse-Oedipus” in front of victims.
That might be okay if Maïwenn were making an exposé, but she genuinely seems to like these officers; she even casts herself as a photojournalist on an assignment to trail the unit. The character wears glasses: Without them, she explains, she’d be “scared no one would take me seriously.” The glasses aren’t enough.