115 minutes| Romania| 2009| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema

With a title strongly suggesting the phrase ‘police state’, this latest look at post-Ceausescu Romania argues that the regime has moved on but the mindset has not. Corneliu Porumboiu’s debut 12:08 East of Bucharest displayed bone-dry humour and a forensic approach to cultural history, qualities in evidence again here as a dedicated provincial detective (Dragos Bucur) faces operational pressure to crack a low-level drugs case, but can’t bring himself to arrest a teenager for a bit of weed that would pass unnoticed in most other European nations. Understandable moral qualms, or a dangerously fuzzy approach to policing? As we follow his progress in immersive detail, conflict is mounting with his determined commander (Vlad Ivanov, quite some actor), and the film builds to what can only be described as a philosophical stand-off – a bravura climactic sequence which could prove the highlight of the cinema year for discerning viewers. Thought-provoking and original, this is austere but undeniably brilliant. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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