Friday, October 24, 2014

Movie Review: Policeman

Directed by: Nadav Lapid.
Written by: Nadav Lapid.
Starring: Yiftach Klein (Yaron), Yaara Pelzig (Shira), Michael Moshonov (Oded), Menashe Noy (Michael), Michael Aloni (Nathanael), Gal Hoyberger (Ariel), Meital Barda (Nili), Shaul Mizrahi (Hila), Rona-Lee Shim'on (Hila's Father), Ben Adam (Yotam).

The Israeli drama Policeman is separated neatly into three different parts. The first exploring the title character, Yaron (Yiftach Klein), a member of an anti-terrorist task force. We see Yaron in two different modes – the macho policeman, all backslaps and “bros” when he is with his fellow officers – who are facing an investigation into an operation gone bad, but plan to stick together through that. He seems like little more than a macho, meathead asshole in these scenes – but perhaps he’s just putting on an act, because we also see him rather sensitive and tender with his pregnant girlfriend – we are told throughout the movie that she may go into labor at any moment. After about 40 minutes of this, minutely observed passage, the movie abruptly changes viewpoints – cutting to a different group. This is a group of four affluent Jewish kids of college age, who we are introduced to taking target practice. They want to start a “revolution” – they consider the rich in Israel to be criminals, when there is so much poverty all around them – even though it becomes clear that none of them have experienced that poverty first hand. They are planning some sort of action in the next few days – which they will use to get media attention to read their manifesto, written by Shira (Yaara Pelzig) – the member of the group that the film focuses most attention on, even though she isn’t their leader. After spending time with this group, we then cut to the finale – when they take three wealthy people at a wedding hostage – and are stuck with the bride as well, who refuses to leave her father – and, of course, Yaron and his group are called in to end the situation.

There are some interesting things touched on throughout Policeman. The difference between who an individual is in private, and who they are as part of a group being chief among them. It also takes a rather unique view of terrorism for an Israeli film, in that the terrorists are Jewish, and not Arab – something that hits Yaron hard in the closing minutes of the film, as he looks at Shira and is confused by what it all means.

The problem with Policeman is that it merely skims the surface of the characters and their situation. The first two acts of the movie basically repeat similar scenes over and over again, to drill the point into the audiences head. The last act seems to be artificially elongated, so that writer-director Nadav Lapid can once again emphasis the points he already made in the first two acts, and take a few other potshots throughout.

There is some interesting stuff going on in Policeman – but it never really delves deep enough into the issues it raises to be satisfying. A more interesting film seems to be starting just as this film ends – one that may involve the type of introspection that this film studiously avoids. The film came out earlier this year – after spending nearly 3 years on the festival circuit and Lapid already has his second film, The Kindergarten Teacher, making the rounds now. I think there is real talent here – but in Policeman his ambitions outreach his ability.

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