Monday, August 13, 2012


Shira practices her speech
Policeman is a film that is clearly divided into 3 acts. Act I focuses on an Israeli police anti-terrorism squad. A group of fit young macho men who like being out in the sun, socialise together and have an eye for beautiful girls. It focuses particularly on Yaron who loves his mother, is devoted to his pregnant wife and has a soft spot for babies. Yaron gets the job of convincing Ariel (who is on sick leave with a brain tumour) that he should take the rap for an incident some time ago when the squad killed some Palestinian civilians. Not that the squad really believes the case will actually come to court.

Act II switches the focus to 4 idealistic left wing activists: Shira (a pretty rich girl) and 3 middle class guys. This group seem held together by undeclared sexual attractions to each other. They are planning a kidnapping in order to read their political grievances on TV. This is a short flowery speech complaining about state asset sales and the widening income gap between rich and poor.

Act III is a billionaire's wedding reception where the activists take 3 billionaires hostage and it become immediately obvious they haven't thought through how the next step is going to play out. During the tense wait Shira berates the bride: "You are not a woman, but a bride. You have no face - you've got make up. You have no breasts, but perfectly fitted bra. You have no body - you have this dress. And this dress is exactly in the size of your personality". In the end it is all over in 2 seconds. As the rest of the police squad leave, Yaron watches Shira die and the credits roll.

Judging from the whispers around me at the end, I was not the only person who was wondering if I had missed something. Thinking about it afterwards I wondered if the film was really about small group dynamics rather than the events, the characters or the politics.

Reviews I have read fall into two camps: those who are confused by the film and those who hail it as a great Israeli political film (e.g. "one of the most provocative films to come out of Israel in recent years; Waltz with Bashir and Lebanon are, by comparison, tame and equivocating" Richard Porton, Cinéaste). If group dynamics is subject of the film then surely it is sociological rather than political, but perhaps I am splitting hairs.

Ian's rating 1/5

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