The large ensemble cast is a little tricky to keep track of at first (11 actors are given an equal credit on the poster), but as the film progresses their individual characters start to show through.
Essentially, Polisse is about how the officers assigned to the BPM deal with such a grim reality from day to day. Coping strategies appear to include drink, sex, eating disorders, black humour and occasional violent outbursts. While this all might sound overwhelmingly depressing, Maïwenn has woven many moments of humour into her film, only one of which feels inappropriate (but that's entirely the point). I particularly loved the disco dancing scenes – and there's a touch of romance as well.
I cry at the drop of a hat when watching films, but the emotional moments in Polisse could not have been more different than my usual tear-jerkers. Tears can often be cathartic, and actively sought by the director, but in this case I found myself crying almost without even realising it, at two moments when the tragedy of it all became too much.
Really, I cannot recommend this film enough. It has a few flaws, of course, what film doesn't? But I'm still thinking about it three days later. Perfect in particular for UK-based fans of Engrenages (Spiral) who have recently received the bad news that season 4 won't be broadcast here until 2013. Personally I found it even more gritty than the exploits of Laure and Gilou – I would be interested to know what you think.
Final thought – Joeystarr, formerly of French rap group NTM, is a revelation.
Polisse is available on Curzon on Demand for £6.