The State of Things: Our Review of ‘Policeman’

Posted in Movies, Retrospective by - August 17, 2018
The State of Things: Our Review of ‘Policeman’

Israeli writer-director Nadav Lapid has some interest in aesthetics. But he concerns himself more with the themes in his debut feature, Policeman. There’s an irony here, naming his movie after the job of his protagonist, Yaron (Yiftach Klein). But we mostly see him out of the uniform, sometimes literally. He’s a good husband and expectant father. He tells everybody about that news even though he tells his wife not to tell anyone because of some superstition. There’s a scene that proves his manhood as he carries his wife up the stairs. There’s a metaphor here on things breaking down but it’s nothing his arms can’t handle. He’s the embodiment of Israel, as Lapid shows off Yaron’s body, values, and patriotism. Eventually we’ll meet people who are the exact opposite, representing, supposedly, Israel’s leftist mind.

There’s that out of the blue tonal shift here to the story of Nathanael (Michael Aloni), Oded, (Michael Moshonov). They are half of a group of socialists. Perhaps it’s being the son of a judge that makes Nathanael rebel. Interestingly, some of the socialists have lighter skin and hair compared to Yaron. Nonetheless, they want to replace Israel’s old order in the street level with smarter, younger people of their generation. The old and the rich are ungrateful and have to go. There’s a scene where Nathanael tells one of his friends to take over the place of a busker. There’s another contrast between Yaron and the socialists. The former is constantly on the move, the camera shifting around while he bikes or climbs. There are, on the other hand, more uncomfortable static shots of these students in thought.

Yaron and the socialists eventually have to meet, as Lapid eventually bows to conventional storytelling. The socialists bring guns to the wedding of a billionaire’s scion. Yaron, doing his part as a member of a counter terrorist unit, has to stop them. These new ‘terrorists’ surprise him, for once, that he doesn’t have to kill ‘Arabs’ as a part of his job. The movie’s first two sections has so much great observation. It’s disappointing, then, that these characters become toothless in time. It doesn’t help that it relies on stereotypes by its third section. By this time the cops become more jock-y. The ‘terrorists’ on the other hand think they can use slogans to get their points across. But despite these characters Lapid imbues their encounters with intensity.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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