Backlog #23: Police (1985)

This was one of the last films I watched in the DVD backlog, but in spite of this I don’t remember much about it. Little more than the plot stated on the blurb: Gerard Depardieu’s detective endeavours to break up a Tunisian drugs ring. Sophie Marceau plays the female lead, and it was quite violent and enigmatic.

The detective Mangin is a tired though fighting man, trailing three brothers in underworld Belleville. All the players here know this is a game that is interminably rolling along and this cynicism plays out through the film. The wildcard is the girl, Noria, who trades her association with the gang to go with Mangin. She is the most able (and interesting) within this grim, nightmarish demi-monde: all sharp-eyed calculation and no sense of morality. Mangin falls for her and the film develops into an exploration of this mutant romance: they need each other for different ends, but ultimately they need each other?

Both the leads embody these personalities that they portray: the brute charisma of the detective and the cold-eyed beauty of the girl. The plot itself is worked up from the scenario and the improvisation doesn’t result in fireworks: it is very downbeat and only just stays on the right side of watchable. I found Pialat’s Loulou to be a more rewarding a viewing experience. Police (the first film in these backlog reviews of mine was called Detective, and both were difficult French films released in 1985) is flawed but worthwhile, because of the honesty of its exploration of love amidst the lowlife of western society and the performances of its leads.

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