Movie review: "Police, Adjective"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

You will probably find the Romanian import "Police, Adjective" either an intriguing meditation of the mundane or merely mundane.

Writer-director Corneliu Porumboiu takes a minimalist concept to the max. With a backdrop of the slow-grinding wheels of bureaucracy and a moral dilemma, it's surprising he didn't include a five-minute montage of paint drying.

Cristi (Dragos Bucur) is a young plainclothes police officer. He passes the hours in surveillance of a high school student who (gasp!) smokes hash with classmates. Cristi is pressured to gain evidence to warrant an arrest in an offense he considers a minor indiscretion of youth.

"Police, Adjective" certainly has intelligence. There's a wry, dark humor at work here, and an interesting philosophical (and semantic) debate, especially in the context of its Eastern European setting.

But while it's oddly fascinating and occasionally quite funny, it's also deadly dull. Yes, there is definitely a point to all of the mundane tasks carried out on screen, but it's a point reached early and rehashed often.

Porumboiu treats us to countless lengthy shots of Cristi walking ... and walking - in and out of frame and at a leisurely pace. There's also real-time action including soup-eating and dictionary-reading.

It's a long, dry joke that ends with a humorous whimper. After all that setup, it could have used a bang or two.

"Police, Adjective"

Opens Friday at the Gateway Film Center

Grade: C+