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Polisse: movie review

The French police drama is less than the sum of its parts.

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The police in the powerful, uneven new French film "Polisse" work for the Child Protection Unit in northern Paris. Their lives are taken up with investigating crimes against minors, including pedophilia, child prostitution, and all other manner of vice.

Over the film's more-than-two-hour running time we are immersed in the lives of these cops as they attempt both to see justice done and to preserve their sanity. In the rare moments when they hang out together and party hearty, their energy is almost frantic. They know they have to seize these oases before the next storm hits.

The squad includes the unit's leader, Balloo (Frédéric Pierrot); Fred (French rap artist Joeystarr), who is estranged from his daughter; Nadine (Karin Viard), who is going through a divorce, and her troubled partner Iris (Marina Foïs); and Mathieu (Nicolas Duvauchelle), who hankers for his married partner, Chrys (Karole Rocher).

Joining them on assignment from the Interior Ministry to document their activities is Melissa (Maïwenn), who shows up wearing thick glasses and her rich mane of hair tucked in. This is a dead giveaway that, as she opens up to the cops' lives and Fred's affections, she will eventually eliminate the glasses and loosen her hair.

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