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PRINT January 2010

film

Corneliu Porumboiu’s Police, Adjective

Corneliu Porumboiu, Police, Adjective, 2009, still from a color film in 35 mm, 115 minutes. Cristi (Dragoş Bucur).

LIKE 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST, for which Corneliu Porumboiu won the 2006 Caméra d’Or at Cannes, Police, Adjective, the Romanian director’s second feature, is, in part, a film about language, particularly how the contradictory usages of certain words are dead giveaways for the state of a society. Police, to take a loaded example, can be employed as an adjective in such salient phrases as police procedural (the film’s genre) and police state (a form of government that continues to cast a shadow, as Porumboiu shows, on Romania’s newborn, already stagnating democracy).

For most of the film, Cristi (Dragoş Bucur), a young undercover cop, shadows a teenager suspected of dealing hash. As Cristi tails Victor (Radu Costin) through the streets of Vaslui, the Romanian backwater that also lent 12:08 its setting and is in fact the director’s hometown, the camera, at a discreet distance, keeps

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