Police, Adjective

Film critics have been hailing what they call the "Romanian New Wave" because of two recent films from the Eastern European nation: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Though both films were unsentimental and chilly, with minimal camera work and bleak location scenery, they were still effective, thanks to strong - even harrowing - subject matter and engaging casts.

The latest Romanian feature to reach the US, Police, Adjective, lacks everything that made its predecessors so compelling. Shot in what I like to call the "International Film Festival Style", with wide shots, extremely long takes, and a camera glued to its tripod, Police, Adjective is almost defiantly boring in its depiction of a young detective's empty existence as he putters around on an insignificant drug bust involving three teenagers. A handful of deadpan dialogue scenes - mostly about the vagaries of words and language - do not make up for the many monotonous shots of the detective standing around, or eating soup, or waiting for paperwork to get done. Obviously, writer/director Porumboiu is trying to make a point about his characters' drab existence, but there's a way to get this across without boring your audience to tears.

I don't mind a deliberately-paced film, but while watching Police, Adjective I could only think of how more watchable it would be if someone simply went in and halved the screen time of most of the shots. Nothing would be lost, not even the film's message. Other critics may be trying to convince you (and themselves) that there is something interesting going on here, but don't be fooled.