Police, Adjective

The directors of Romania’s so-called New Wave have all dealt in some way with the dark legacy of Nicolae Ceausescu.

Corneliu Porumboiu’s Cannes-feted policier manifests a particularly sophisticated analysis, using its ostensible genre-film trappings — an undercover cop closes in on a teenaged hashish dealer — to critique the country’s totalitarian hangover.

There have been plenty of films about cops suffering crises of conscience, but Police, Adjective may be the first in which the protagonist is forced to define exactly what “conscience” means.

The three-men-and-a-dictionary climax is simply brilliant: Never has the study of etymology been so mesmerizing.

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