Saturday May 14th 2011

I don’t think I was alone in suspecting that model-cum-actress-cum-photogrpaher-cum-stand-up-cum-director Maïwenn’s directorial debut Polisse would be a case of style over substance. After all, she’s got an ‘official website’ but no surname.

But just as author Julia Leigh defied expectations with one of the least ‘literary’ films at Cannes, Maïwenn has wilfully abandoned her trendy hipster background and made a movie all about people and the things that they do and how these things affect other people around them and make them do other things. It’s a revelation.

Polisse is an episodic police drama in the vein of The Class, following Paris’ Child Protection Unit as they interview child molesters, search for stolen kids and, in one oddly extended scene, go for a bit of a rave-up at a nightclub. It’s all very nuanced and realistic, if a little slight for its 127 minute runtime.

Maïwenn herself plays a photographer tasked with trailing the unit, observing their work from an impartial distance. IT’S ALMOST AS IF HER CHARACTER IS A METAPHOR FOR HER ROLE AS DIRECTOR, if you can get your head around that concept.

It probably won’t be walking away with any prizes at the festival, and I’m sure I’ll forget how much I liked it once it arrives in the UK with a hideously bland quad poster, but Polisse is an intensely absorbing experience that’s totally worth catching if you get the opportunity. I laughed, I cried, I even did a little clap at the end.

UPDATE: This is actually Maïwenn’s fourth film as director. I’m a dick.