Cristi (Dragos Bucur) is a police detective that spends his days trailing a teenager that an informant suspects of dealing drugs. But Cristi is unconvinced, and in light of neighbouring countries becoming more liberal in their view on drug possession, he grows reluctant to making an arrest that he knows will result in a jail sentence for the kid. Cristi's boss, however, challenges this crisis of conscience and forces Cristi to examine his beliefs.
Director Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest) has created an intimate film, spare on plot and observational in style, that follows Cristi in the monotony of his day-to-day work. This almost documentary-like feel is heightened by the lack of incidental music, all of which in turn heightens the sense of realism. Bucur turns in an understated performance that suits the character well, and still allows one to see some of the internal conflict Cristi has about what he wants to do and what his job, and by extension society and the state, requires him to do. This doesn't quite carry through all the way to the ending; we see the challenge to Cristi's beliefs and his ultimate decision, but not necessarily any more of how much he struggles to get to that final place. But maybe in the end that choice is not that hard given his options and the arguments before him. The film is still effective and for me an engaging work.
Director Corneliu Porumboiu did a Q&A after the film:
- Porumboiu has a good friend that is a policeman that told him a story similar to the one in the film, and from there he started to write the script. It's also linked to his obsession with words.- Originally, he shot scenes on DVD to give them a scheme of rhythm, but ultimately the final rhythm is found in editing. This is in reference specifically to the scenes where Cristi is following the teenagers through the city.
- On allowing the audience to experience the boredom of Cristi's job, Porumboiu said that in movies with police you usually see exceptional characters in exceptional situations, so he wanted to do the reverse of that kind of movie.
- On casting, he said the Bucur is his godfather and have known each other for 10 years and worked on a couple of shorts, and from the second draft of the script, he was writing with Bucur in mind.- He makes movies about people that he knows well.
- Porumboiu's friends in the police have seen the film, and they apparently liked it.
- In his script, he is mainly concerned about dialog. For the remainder, because he shot in his hometown, he knew the streets and locations, so the directions in the script were quite simple, to the extent of "Cristi is walking on the street following the young girl" and nothing more.