Thursday, October 17, 2013


2011, France, directed by Maïwenn

Though you only rarely hear it mentioned Bertrand Tavernier's 1992 film L.627 is one of the great latter-day French police movies, a day-to-day depiction of the French police system and the people with whom it comes into contact.  Consciously or not, its influence looms large here, with a child protection unit replacing the earlier film's narcotics squad. There's a little more melodrama on this occasion, particularly on the home front as the various members of the squad become personally involved, and the ending is both unexpected and distracting, but for the most part it, too, is a fascinating depiction of the very different legal philosophy of the French system, with victims and accused drawn together in ways that do not occur in the Anglo-Saxon world.

That makes for some excruciating confrontations, particularly given the nature of the accusations, that would seem only to increase the victims' trauma, while it seems entirely routine for police to push the accused, their accusers, and any witnesses around with considerable physicality, in ways that make some parts of the American and British police worlds seem almost genteel at times. You get the sense that Maïwenn is trying to make a broader point about the weaknesses of her country's investigative processes, though it's hard to know just what the viewer is intended to do with any sense of outrage, particularly since the police, as depicted here, take on many of the social burdens of dealing with criminality, allowing the wider public to be shielded from a never-ending stream of trauma.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States