On Wednesday, courtesy of the Sydney Film Festival, I was in France. At a juvenile protection unit within the Paris police force to be more exact. The film was Polisse (a childish spelling of 'police'), directed by Maiwenn who also had a leading role in the film and was present for a q&a at the end of the film. This is a good film and won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2011. It's tough and unflinching, though humane, in presenting the mistreatment and exploitation of children and the toll it takes on the private lives and relationships of the police investigating these crimes. The performances of the children are exceptional. While watching you completely forget that the film is a recreation; you are absolutely absorbed by each interaction. Some of the brilliant moments of the film are those showing the camaraderie that develops among people working together in challenging situations. I think the film's least successful element is the love story between one of the investigators - instinctive and charged with emotion - and a photographer attached to the unit to report on its work. In the q&a the director said she's seen this love story as necessary to give the film an element of hope and looking forward. But I think it's a bit sentimental. In a very modern way - but nevertheless, sentimental.
The film also provided glimpses of how the French legal system deals with the investigation of such crimes. I'm always interested in such matters and wanted to know more. But that's wanting a different movie; always an unfair way to view the movie.
This film is good. 4 out of 5.
I forgot to mention earlier that I also went to the McPherson Memorial Lecture that is held each year in conjunction with the festival. This year it wasn't a lecture, but an interview. Revered film critic David Stratton interviewed (almost) veteran Australian actor Brian Brown, who must be one of the easiest people to interview, ever. David Stratton would ask a question and Brown would be off for at least five minutes, mixing anecdote, opinion, humour and disarmingly personal revelations with great fluency. He is either a person absolutely at ease with himself, or an actor giving a superb performance of being absolutely at ease with himself - or maybe a mix of both. Along the way there were wonderfully pragmatic comments about the Australian film industry and what it has and hasn't achieved. Excellent.