Director Maurice Pialat subverts the mainstream thriller genre for a personal film that deliberately works against conventional expectations. Gaumont sank a reported FF25 million (nearly $3 million) into Police.
Film was first announced as an adaptation of a Yank detective novel, Bodies Are Dust by P.J. Wolfson. Pialat suddenly dropped the idea and asked writer-scripter Catherine Breillat for an original screenplay, but then discarded most of what she came up with. Backed by a small battery of writers, the filmmaker improvised story development as production rolled.
Not surprising then that the film hasn’t much of a plot. Pialat ruthlessly strips everything down to a deliberately anti-climactic study of an ill-fated romance between a cop and a drug dealer’s girlfriend.
Gerard Depardieu gives a superb, buttressing performance as the flic, whose boisterous, macho manner hides an abyss of mediocrity and desperate loneliness. When off duty, he often knocks around with a shady young lawyer (Richard Anconina) and doesn’t shun the company of hookers (one of them played by Sandrine Bonnaire).
It is also through Anconina that Depardieu gets closer to a young girl (Sophie Marceau), who has been arrested along with her Arab boyfriend during a drug raid. Depardieu begins to see her socially, and soon falls in love with her.
The first half of Police is vivid and vigorous, as the director situates his protagonist in his professional milieu. When the Depardieu-Marceau relationship comes to the fore (and story and secondary characters all but disappear) the film begins to unravel badly.
Film was the last production initiated at Gaumont by its former general manager, Daniel Toscan du Plantier.