Movies: Police, Adjective * * * *
If the steady procession of excellent Romanian dramas that have emerged in recent years have anything in common, it's a kind of sweeping lyrical realism and an unshakable insistence on telling it like it is. Both these traits are strongly evident in Corneliu Porumboiu's Police, Adjective, a daringly uneventful police drama that plays out at a beguilingly funereal pace. Porumbiou knows exactly what he's doing, and his steady pace forces you to notice and think about the details.
Dragos Bucur is Cristi, a plainclothes cop with a conscience who's not best pleased when he's ordered to tail a student accused of pot-smoking by an embittered friend. Under Romanian law, the boy could be sent to jail, a fact Cristi finds ridiculous, but he's about to be taught a harsh lesson by his unctuous boss (Vlad Ivanov).
In the film's funniest scene, a dictionary is produced in order to settle a dispute over meaning, and the importance of linguistic precision is a constant theme in this delightfully eccentric and thought-provoking film.