police-adjective-mar-1stA film about language and its power. Conscientious policeman Cristi often investigates the minor drug dealings of local, bored, youths. He writes detailed reports for his Captain: “The suspect met no one, didn’t use his phone and smoked one cigarette. Nothing happened for two hours.” In frustration at Cristi’s reluctance to arrest the youths, the Captain forces his detectives to define the meanings of ‘conscience’ and ‘morals’. “a brittle sensibility and a philosophical bite that are… discreet, very Romanian and in a downbeat way, altogether devastating.” – Jonathan Romney, The Independent. (Cert 12A)
Dir: Corneliu Porumboiu 110 mins Romania 2009

Programme Notes

Police, Adjective (Politist, adjectiv)
Romania 2009 110 minutes Cert. 12A

Police Adjective takes you into the Romanian police force, following Cristi, played by Dragos Bucur (The Way Back (2010), Boogie (2008), The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)), as a young police officer who is currently investigating a teenager suspected of supplying drugs to other teenagers. However, Cristi seems hesitant to arrest the teen. Is it because he does not suspect him of doing anything wrong, which is against his superior’s orders to arrest him? The film follows Cristi as he investigates the teenager’s every move, whilst questioning whether he has what it takes to arrest him, despite his belief that it may not be the best way of dealing with the teenager’s problems.

This is Corneliu Porumbiou’s second feature film, having made his debut feature, 12:08 East of Bucharest in 2006. Police, Adjective was filmed on location in the Romanian cities of Bucharest and Vaslui. The film went on to become the country’s official selection of the 2010 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Whilst it did not receive any nominations at the Oscars, it became a hit at the Cannes Films Festival, picking up two awards. It also won Porumboiu the Transilvania Trophy at the 2009 Transilvania International Film Festival and gained nominations at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina for Best Foreign Film and for a Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA) Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Cristi – Dragos Bucur
Anghelache – Vlad Ivanov
Anca – Irina Saulescu
Nelu – Ion Stoica
Prosecutor – Marian Ghenea
Costi – Cosmin Selesi

Director – Corneliu Porumboiu
Screenplay – Corneliu Porumboiu
Cinematography – Marius Panduru
Editor – Roxana Szel
Producer – Corneliu Porumboiu

“Like a dark-comedy sequel to the masterful German film The Lives of Others, Corneliu Porumboiu’s Police, Adjective gives viewers a penetrating glimpse of surveillance culture, in this case as it plays out in post-communist Romania.”
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

“Porumboiu is one of the few helmers working today who so completely understands both the power of language and the power of visuals.” Jay Weissberg, Variety

“Yet another outstanding little movie in the exciting Romanian New Wave.” Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

“In its own way, this is one of the most intense cop movies you’ll see.” Wesley Morris, Boston Globe

“[It] may not be the film you’re expecting, but it’s one that will stay on your mind.” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times


“Wish I’d sat nearer the door.”

“Nothing wrong with the Police Work, but the adjective was ‘BORING’. The writer of the screenplay must have ben an ex-copper.”

“Dire, most boring film ever.”

“Snorabily(?) boring.”

“Grey, dull and boring. Nothing happened in the film of any note.”

“Watching paint dry very slowly.”

“Slow to stop.”

“Very tedious.”

“‘very, very boring’ comparative adjectival phrase. Was this to make other boring films this year look more interesting?”

“Glacially slow and a thin plot, not a good combination. Hoped it would be intriguing, possibly a dark comedy, as one of the reviews said, but it was neither really.”

“Tedious, but I suppose that’s the point.”

“At least The Moral Maze [radio programme] lasts only 40 minutes. I enjoyed the foot tennis.”

“Paint drying?”

“They do say ‘a watched pot never boils’!”

Police, Adjective tries too hard to be a minimalist police thriller that you forget what is going on from the lengthy camera shots and lack of scripted dialogue. At least the cinemaphotography of the Romanian suburbia made it tolerable.”

“It took too long to get to what it was after. Not without merit.”

“Could have been done in 30 minutes.”

“It should be renamed to A Diary of a Stalker.”

“Well, finally it did have a point … Amazing – endless spells of nothing, but strangely gripping a lot of the time. (C means half @ A and half @E)”

“A fascinating exploration of of the nuances of language, but it felt like the three or days portrayed ran in real time!”

“a hair-shirt night!”

“Perfect Pinter – great fun!”

“Slow (Real Time!) but oddly compelling – the relentlessly shabby urban environment, the pointlessness of it all!”


“There is a message here somewhere! It took a while to get there though.”

“Very long run in to a rather splendid last scene. What a mess Romania seems to be in!”

“Subversively involves one in the whole boring buiness of surveillance! Clever!”


“Fascinating to watch. How would it be without having subtitles? A different film, probably.”

“The last fifteen minutes were excellent, but the lack of tension up to then was rivaled only by the supremely boring Czech film the ABCD showed 2 years ago about a young supermarket employee [Milos Forman’s Peter and Pavla (1964)]”.

“What an exceptionally clever, sensitive and entertaining film! The combination of the silent passages (in themselves visually very witty) with the way in which language rules are deployed as an instrument of arbitrary authority was starkly satisfying. The scene with the copper and his wife was very affecting and superbly framed. Do we not like films to treat issues such as conscience?”