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Police

PoliceJust because youre on the right side
  of the law doesn
t mean youll do
  things by the book — and
in Maurice
  Pialat
s gritty drama Police, its
  obsessively-determined detective
  Louis Mangin (Gérard Depardieu) who
  steps over the line to nail a drugs ring
...

ANY FILM THAT STARS THE CHARMING and well-respected Gérard Depardieu is worth watching and this idiosyncratic police thriller that was a great commercial success in France is no exception, even if the character he plays is somewhat flawed.

Police comes to DVD as part of The Masters Of Cinema Series with an outstanding cast under the auspices of legendary Director Maurice Pialat (Loulou, Van Gogh), who is widely considered one of the greatest filmmakers of French cinema.

Written with Catherine Breillat (Director of The Last Mistress, Anatomy Of Hell, Fat Girl) but relying in equal measure upon Pialat's improvisatory control (directing, among others, his star-actress from A nos amours, Sandrine Bonnaire) Police is thought of as a genre-defying excursion rivalled only by John Cassavetes' The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie in the pantheon of cinema's most idiosyncratic thrillers.

At times a little off-beat and perplexing, Police grasps every opportunity to string you along and then lets go — resulting in a surprising twist that is dropped into the film almost casually towards the end and that leads you along yet another interesting avenue to be explored.

Intriguing from the opening shot where hard-nosed, unconventional detective Louis Mangin (Gérard Depardieu, who also collaborated with Pialat on Loulou, Sous le soleil de Satan and Le Garçu) is brutally questioning Tunisian Tarak 'Claude' Louati (Meaachou Bentahar) about his supposed criminal activities as a drugs courier and middle man, Police dares to be different.

Mangin's brutal method of investigation finds its obsessive outlet in this attempt to crack a Tunisian narcotics ring based in Marseilles and with connections in Paris. While questioning Tarak 'off the record', Mangin manages to inveigle him into coming up with some names — including the Slimane brothers Simon (Jonathan Leïna), Maxime (Abdel Kader Touati) and Jean. He also says he has seen Simon with a girl called Noria (expertly played by Sophie Marceau in one of her first screen roles).

Noria accidentally leads the police to a young man who claims to be Nasrine Slimane and who — despite Mangin's over-enthusiastic physical coercion after he arrests them both — coolly and steadfastly refuses to admit that he has ever been called Simon and that he is not a heroin trafficker. Noria also insists that she is innocent, even though Mangin tells her that both Raoul Bensimi and Tarak Louati implicated her and Simon.

Bent lawyer Michel Lambert (Richard Aconina), who appears to be hand-in-glove with the underworld, is given the task of getting Noria and Nasrine released and is constantly seen in the company of the criminal fraternity — even though he socialises with Mangin.

But Mangin is being drawn into Noria's world as he finds himself attracted to her — an event that takes the progress of the film on an unexpected and emotionally ambiguous course — and the lines between 'right' and 'wrong' and 'power' and 'freedom' terminally blur. Things get even hotter when Noria makes a decision that is to put the life of both herself and her brother Clément at risk.

The widowed Mangin's love life is anything but simple — his romantic interests also include trainee Superintendent Marie Vedret (Pascale Recard) and Lydie (Sandrine Bonnaire) who is associated with the violent Dédé (Yann Dedet). Violence in the film is minimal and not over-explicit.

Maurice Pialat's Police delivers on the raw promise of its title, insofar as much of its action qualifies as an insistently 'procedural' descent into the Paris drugs underworld. But the hyper-real route that the film takes to arrive there, before veering into a zone of dangerous emotional play contributes to a disorienting, adventurous and ultimately tremendously exciting experience unlike any 'police-thriller' ever before conceived.

Starring three of the most famous and respected actors in world cinema — Gérard Depardieu, Sophie Marceau and Sandrine Bonnaire — Police also features: Franck Karoui as René; Jonathan Leïna as Simon; Jacques Mathou as Gauthier; Bernard Fuzellier as Nez Cassé; Meaachou Bentahar as Claude; Yann Dedet as Dédé; Abdel Kader Touat as Maxime; Bechir Idani as Barman René; Sylvaine Maupu as Clément; and Taya Ouzrout as Aïcha. The film is produced by Emmanuel Schlumberger and contains some female full-frontal nudity.

The Police DVD comes in a 2-disc Special Edition that includes: Gorgeous new anamorphic transfer of the film in its original aspect ratio | New and improved English subtitle translations | 2003 video interview with director and Police co-screenwriter Catherine Breillat, conducted by former Cahiers du cinéma editor-in-chief, and current director of the Cinémathèque Française, Serge Toubiana | Zoom Sur Police (Zoom Onto Police) (2002) — a 34-minute documentary by Virginie Apiou about the production of the film | Vintage screen tests featuring Maurice Pialat and C Galmiche, the inspiration for the character of Lambert | Excerpt from a 1985 episode of Cinéma Cinémas shot during the course of the 17th day of production on Police | 23-minute video discussion with Yann Dedet, the editor of Police | The film's original trailer, along with trailers for other Maurice Pialat films to be released by The Masters of Cinema Series | Forty-page booklet containing a new essay by filmmaker and critic Dan Sallitt and newly translated interviews with Maurice Pialat.

The Masters Of Cinema Series is proud to present Maurice Pialat's splendid 1985 film Police in a magnificent, digitally-restored transfer for the first time on DVD in the UK (release date 22 September, 2008). Catalogue No: EKA40293 | Barcode: 5060000402933 | RRP: £22.99 | Running Time: 109 Minutes | Format: Colour | Year: 1985.

"At times a little off-beat and perplexing, Police grasps every opportunity to string you along and then lets go — resulting in a surprising twist that is dropped into the film almost casually towards the end and that leads you along yet another interesting avenue to be explored" — MotorBar