Police, Adjective

By Jay Kuehner

Please note that the director’s familial relation to former football referee Adrian Porumboiu has in no way influenced the consideration of this report; it may be pertinent that the notion of fairness figures prominently in their respective vocations.

It should be stated that the work under consideration has, for the purpose of this report, been conducted when possible under optimal circumstances. 12:08 East of Bucharest, the director’s 2006 feature with elderly Romanians (some drunk) disputing the revolution on a talk show, was first viewed at Telluride, where the director proclaimed, “We Romanians invented absurdity.” His second feature, Police, Adjective (2009), which “focuses on policeman Cristi who, investigating a teenage boy who has been smoking hashish, begins to question the ethical ramifications of his task,” was re-viewed on a non-theatrical DVD format, on which playback was possible after admittedly falling asleep two times during viewing.

But it is upon the content of the director’s work to date that we base our consideration, and thus it is toward the notions of history, language, morality, and absurdity—all words that have been applied, as descriptive attributes, to the director’s work, that we turn our attention. Presently there is insufficient evidence to suggest that these themes have reached full maturation in the director’s work, which often favours long passages and lugubrious dramatic action without punctuation. Police, Adjective contains an inquiry into criminal activity and its potential punishment, and is therefore moral in nature, but its nominal plot of an investigation, or procedural, is stalled by irreconcilable “qualms of conscience” and ultimately resolved by an ineffectual police force with recourse to a dictionary.

For all the insistence on language, definitions, and the political/moral implication of consensual usage, it is often in an everyday or “quotidian” context that the theme is broached. Again in Police, Adjective, Cristi engages in a futile argument with his new wife about the lyrics of a popular song; it is not clear if the inclusion of this exchange has elucidated our understanding of the power of language, or merely alienated us as viewers from the drama that, to be candid, the director has done little to usher into urgent purview. But to be fair it also worth crediting the director with the insight that unrequited love may very well be like toothpaste without a toothbrush.

Therefore, while there are reasons to suggest that Corneliu Porumboiu has engaged with his work in a technically competent manner as befits his potential induction into future cinematic canons, and he has questioned the ethical ramifications of his task, this report remains inconclusive. But go easy on him. He’s just a kid.

Tagged with →  


Friend me on FacebookFollow me on TwitterRSS Feed

From the Magazine

  • Cinema Scope 81 Table of Contents

    Interviews Anything Is Possible: Josh and Benny Safdie on Uncut Gems by Adam Nayman A Concept of Reality: Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral by Daniel Kasman Fairytales More →

  • Anything Is Possible: Josh and Benny Safdie on Uncut Gems

    At this point, the Safdies are young masters of their own aesthetic, which was in formation at the time of Daddy Longlegs but felt more fully realized in Heaven Knows What:a roving, probing, pulsating audiovisual weave that doesn’t so much privilege pace over clarity as locate one in the other. Their movies can be exhausting, enervating, and even annoying (and Sandler, to his credit, achieves genuine annoyance in many passages here), but they’re never confusing, and the lucidity of their storytelling—which never wavers even when their characters have no earthly idea what they’re doing—has become one of contemporary American cinema’s true and distinctive marvels. More →

  • They Are All Equal Now: The Irishman’s Epic of Sadness

    Since cinema is moving toward television, and since the MCU generation is trying to actually tussle with a good fella like Martin Scorsese, and since all of this is wrapped around a cultural moment steeped in glorious contradictions, the timing of The Irishman couldn’t be more perfect. More →

  • Far from Paradise: Nina Menkes’ Queen of Diamonds

    By Erika Balsom Diamonds are sharp and hard, rich in myth and violence, soaked in desire, totally under the putrid spell of money. They are, More →

  • Garden Against the Machine: Ja’Tovia Gary’s The Giverny Document

    By Michael Sicinski Ja’Tovia Gary’s filmmaking is all to some extent grappling with the question of identity, particularly its precariousness in an often hostile world. More →