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Polisse (2011)



Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 77
Fresh: 67 | Rotten: 10

Polisse is a gripping and powerful procedural drama filled with fine acting and unflinching eye for truth and brutality.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 24
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 0

Polisse is a gripping and powerful procedural drama filled with fine acting and unflinching eye for truth and brutality.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 4,927

My Rating

Movie Info

Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for 13 César Awards, Polisse follows the daily lives of a tight-knit team of men and women working in the Child Protection Unit of the Parisian police. Basing her richly textured script on real child investigation cases, writer-director actor Maïwenn has gathered an accomplished ensemble cast of French actors who convey the emotional strain of the unit's work with gritty realism. They not only deal with the stress of their

Oct 30, 2012


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All Critics (78) | Top Critics (24) | Fresh (67) | Rotten (10)

[O]ne of the best based-on-facts police pictures.

August 8, 2012 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whatever you think of it, you won't be neutral.

June 28, 2012 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bluntly edited, with no hand-holding transitional scenes, the film is an intimate portrait of an idealistic, understaffed, sometimes wrongheaded team battling youth prostitution, thievery rings and adult predators from every class of society.

June 28, 2012 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Polisse" draws us uncomfortably close to a taboo subject then rewards us with real nourishment.

June 15, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Has an infectious energy and aims for a bottom-up, slice-of-life air characterised by naturalistic performances and a fly-on-the-wall shooting style.

June 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's messy, boring, funny, suspenseful, touching, jubilant and tragic.

May 25, 2012 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It has the makings for a pretty good cop show. But as a movie, this 'inside' look at the dozen or so dedicated members of the Parisian Child Protection Unit is conspicuously lacking in coherence and depth.

June 2, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

It gets across its message on the plight of the innocent children.

February 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The French drama is a gritty and intimate look at big-city detectives that had me wondering what the French word for "wire" is.

September 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

...a tough and mostly rewarding ride, sort of like a full season of a novelistic cable drama like The Wire compressed into a two-hour serving ...

September 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Polisse connects fitfully through its sheer urgency -- it's a work of deep feeling. But the movie, which opts for a baseline emotional setting of overheated, eventually starts to come across as pummeling, and one-note.

July 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Shared Darkness
Shared Darkness

A (chaotic) tour-de-force ...

July 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post

It's an affecting film that's has stuck with me since I left the theatre.

June 30, 2012 Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane
ABC Radio Brisbane

"Polisse" made me wonder how to say, "Its reach exceeds its grasp," in French.

June 28, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Though made as a feature film, Polisse looks suspiciously like a few episodes of medium-quality TV stapled together...a contender for one of the most overrated films of 2012.

June 26, 2012 Full Review Source: 3AW | Comment (1)

A cohesive energy and dramatic weight draws us ever tighter to its gut wrenching centre

June 25, 2012 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

It plays out like a vibrant, explosive slice of life .... It's not always comfortable to watch, but one thing is assured: this is one film you will not forget

June 25, 2012 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

An urgent, fly-on-the-wall affair that plays out like a grittier big-screen take on its more famous, US TV-related cousins.

June 24, 2012 Full Review Source: The Sun Herald
The Sun Herald

The performances are uniformly excellent, but the charismatic rapper Joeystarr is particularly impressive as an idealistic, insubordinate cop with a short fuse.

June 17, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

It's a well-done film, but also leaves me a little cold, even as I admire the way Maïwenn is willing to forego most of the stock button-pushing moments of the typical police drama.

June 16, 2012 Full Review Source: PopMatters

It's like the French version of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, except every case is one that would send Detective Elliot Stabler totally mental and inspire him to punch a wall or two.

June 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

A drama with interesting moments, but also some false notes and a wildly bizarre ending.

June 14, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

Audience Reviews for Polisse

Polisse is the biggest pile of contrived nonsense since Paul Haggis's Crash. So Actress/Director/Researcher/Egotist Maïwenn spent nearly a year with Paris's Child Protection Unit, following the Officers in their daily routines both at work and at play. She is successful in showing some of the horrific issues they have to deal with, the sad and heartbreaking tales they have to tell and how this effects and can ultimately destroy their own lives and the way they interact with people on a social level. Some of the scenes are heartbreakingly real and others are unashamedly graphic. The viewer is not stupid, we get it, this film often goes too far just for the sake of it - when the story isn't making much sense director Maïwenn shoves something else unpleasant down your throat to make up for it. The direction and story are badly handled, the DVD cover says 'Like a season of The Wire packed into just one film' which I'm not sure was intended to be a compliment when quoted. The Paedophiles are cliched and two dimensional, you can see them coming a mile off. The way the Child Protection Unit is portrayed is shockingly offensive. The Officers are shown to be a rowdy bunch of rude, unorganised, arrogant and heavy drinking hooligans with a total lack of self control, wannabe pseudo-intellectuals at best. If she's trying to point out that it is a department that isn't working there are other ways to go about it but I don't think she is. In the last scene they talk about opening a 'Internet Paedophile' department, like that's a new thing in 2011. She belittles these people she has supposedly studied and makes a mockery of them and their work. The fact she just had to give herself a pointless starring role in the film just goes to show you how much she really cares about the subject and the real people involved. Offensive and contrived, all to forward her own career, isn't banging Luc Besson enough? One star for the Child actors who were great.
November 6, 2012

Super Reviewer

'Polisse'. Unflinching and raw in capturing the intimacy, camaraderie and harrowing nature of a Child Protection Unit's daily lives.
July 7, 2012

Super Reviewer

"Polisse" synopsis is so dull and poor that I am glad I had not read it before watching the movie. The "journalist covering police assigned to a juvenile division that enters an affair with one of her subjects" is only part of a wider and more complex quilt of characters and interesting stories.

Maïwenn brings up the dirty and dark side of Paris with the help of an excellent team of child actors - Malonn Lévana, the lovely little girl of "Tomboy" (where she plays the sister of the leading character) is someone to keep an eye on - and the best known actors of the French cinema of today: Marina Foïs, Sandrine Kiberlain, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Frédéric Pierrot, Karin Viard, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Alice de Lencquesaing (L'heure d'été, Le père de mes enfants), Jérémie Elkaïm (La guerre est déclarée), Karole Rocher, and others.

This team of stars, however, can be a double-edged sword: at the same time it calls the attention and arouses curiosity, it can also hinder the identification with the characters and/or concentration. It was just me, perhaps, but every time a known face appeared on the screen, my mind would unplug and try to remember in which movie I had seen that actor.

Despite the great cast and some memorable moments, "Polisse" is average. It looks like a police tv drama show, both in format and melodrama, but a very good one it´s true. If made for tv, all the crucial subjects raised by Maïwenn - such as pedophilia, social welfare, immigration, violence - could be better placed and developed, taking in mind the way she chose to portray them. Choices, by the way, seem to be carefully taken. Melissa ´s "ugly panties" being childlike and having the saying "spank me" that she didn´t know what means may work as an alert on how we collaborate with these sexual "fair tale" fantasies. The saying in English (spank me) may also be a criticism on our contemporary times where we usually follow global and standardized models/ideas, sometimes without really knowing or thinking about what they mean, what can be also seen, let´s say, in the episode of the "telephone teenager girl". "But it was a smartphone".

Although I don't think "Polisse" is that good, Maïwenn definitely got my attention. I liked a lot her character Melissa and how it develops and grow as the story unfolds; I was delighted with the funny discussion over the changes in the French language (on how we are killing our language); and the final scene really impressed me - the ending can be melodramatic as said Peter Bradshaw, but definitely not unconvincing.
That said, I will sure check Maïwenn's previous movies and will be waiting for more.
April 19, 2012

Super Reviewer

Through a documental tone using a handheld camera, this realistic drama depicts the everyday life of the policemen in the division of crimes against children in Paris. A fascinating collection of isolated situations showing their work and the relationship between them.
February 23, 2012

Super Reviewer

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May 17, 2012:
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Foreign Titles

  • Poliezei (DE)
  • Polisse (UK)
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