Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    May 24, 2012
    The entire movie is pitched at a scream. But the screaming is more Janis Joplin, Axl Rose, or Mary J. Blige than Jamie Lee Curtis. All the tears I shed were hard-earned. So were all the laughing and clapping and eye-covering. In each case, it was involuntary.
  2. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    May 17, 2012
    The messiness of the film seems appropriate to its subject, which is the attempt to bring at least a measure of order - and even a touch of grace - to a chaotic and frequently ugly reality.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    May 17, 2012
    What makes it such a singular experience is the convergence of fine acting, moral urgency and a willingness to linger on moments of great intensity.
  4. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    May 31, 2012
    Polisse is hard to watch at times, but it's also hard not to.
  5. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    May 24, 2012
    The mosaic of cases and caseworkers is like a season of "The Wire" distilled into two hours.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    May 25, 2012
    I wish the entirety of Polisse were as good as its parts, but perhaps its free-form, mood-swing approach was unavoidable, given the subject. The audience is put through the same wringer as the cops.
  7. Reviewed by: Matt Glasby
    Jun 16, 2012
    Based on genuine cases, the film reveals its horrors in a matter-of-fact manner, taking care to show the characters grasping every chance for laughter - however inappropriate - amid the grimness.
  8. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    May 22, 2012
    As humane as it is disturbing.
  9. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    May 18, 2012
    Inspired by a documentary, the film is shot with vérité immediacy and beautifully acted by an outstanding ensemble. If not every piece of the puzzle delivers its intended impact, the movie as a whole gets under your skin, and the central characters resonate long after the screen goes dark.
  10. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jun 15, 2012
    Like "Gone, Baby, Gone," the French film Polisse succeeds by shifting the focus from the victims to the vigilant protectors.
  11. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    May 31, 2012
    Polisse won a jury prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, but it's only a patchwork success.
  12. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    May 24, 2012
    The style is documentary-like, in that it feels like life and that anything might happen. There is also a nice sense of being in the midst of the action and right there in the room with the characters.
  13. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    May 23, 2012
    I'm not sure I feel more at ease after seeing this prize-winning film about a child protection unit in Paris. No doubt a lot of children get protected, but the professional standards of the police sometimes seem inspired by TV cop shows, on which the plots center around the camaraderie of the cops.
  14. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    May 18, 2012
    While never exploitative, Polisse can be extremely disturbing. Is it possible for a parent to mistreat a child in the ways shown here? Sad to say, the answer is yes.
  15. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    May 16, 2012
    The best moments of Maïwenn's Polisse, about the dedicated members of a Child Protection Unit in northern Paris, have the same quality, a fly-on-the-wall docu-realism that feels eerily like the real thing.
  16. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    May 16, 2012
    The film can be rambling and glib, yet it's no mere crime drama. It captures a middle-class French society that looks more humane than ours, but is just as messed up.
  17. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    May 15, 2012
    The strange, unsettling juxtapositions, even when mashing up the mawkish and mockery, are full of life.
  18. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    May 12, 2012
    Filmmaker-star Maiwenn's socially-minded film is packed with raw, visceral performances from an accomplished cast.
  19. Reviewed by: Jesse Cataldo
    May 13, 2012
    Polisse has been compared to "The Wire," but beyond a shared interest in the Sisyphean nature of police work, the two are mostly comparable as inverses of each other.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 5
  2. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. May 26, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. One of the reviews the makers of this film used to promote it mentioned that it felt like a whole season of The Wire packed into 2 hours. Not even close. But that's a very high bar. It's still a solid film that makes you think and entertains. The ending is shocking, but it comes out of left field just enough that sure, the film-goer can go back and connect the dots leading up to the act, but it could have used a bit more foundation and more of a discernible through-line. And for a team dedicated to the protection of children, they certainly do humiliate a girl who admits to giving oral sex to a bully in order to get her cell phone back. Yes, it's a bit of gallows humor, and the girl in question wasn't an infant, but it made the team look pretty horrible. Compared to most of the drivel you see in theaters this time of year, it's time well-spent. Just don't sit too close to the screen. I was right up there, and there's SO much dialogue, which means that if you don't speak French you're doing a ton of reading when you'd like to be focusing on the action, the facial expressions, etc. Full Review »
  2. Jan 18, 2013
    In the worst scene, a group of adult (although peurile and immature) police officers laugh at a child sex victim who is disclosing sexualIn the worst scene, a group of adult (although peurile and immature) police officers laugh at a child sex victim who is disclosing sexual abuse to them. (Yes, a whole roomful of them, they have nothing better to do than sit around and laugh at the dumb girl). I don't know how this "joke" plays in France or the US, but where I saw it people were swearing at the director - I wish she could have heard it.

    Actually, I take it back - there are 2 even worse scenes, when a police officer punches a man who has confessed to sexually abusing his daughter (the audience is meant to cheer), and a Muslim female cop giving a lecture to a Muslim sex offender on gender equality, at the top of her voice. In short, they do anything but their jobs. You would swear the film is written by an immature, spoilt 22 year old, and then you find out that it is. Maiwenn also "stars" in it, as a shy photographer who nauseatingly has to let down her hair and reveal how utterly gorgeous she is (in French kind of way) in the middle of the film.

    For a film about people investigating child abuse, it is alarmingly cruel about the victims' experience. The plot is stupid, and the ending (if you're still watching) will make you wonder why the hell you don't have better things to do with your time and money. WOEFUL.
    Full Review »
  3. May 5, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. The movie was bizarre. Parts of it were so over the top and unrealistic. In one scene, a drug addict mother kidnaps her baby. 40 cops go on the search for her to rescue the baby. It was ridiculous. There was a lot of tasteless stuff too. At one point four or five cops make fun of a teenage girl who said she was forced to fellate a group of boys to get her smartphone back. The juxtaposition in the very last scene of a previously victimized boy's gymnastic success and one of the female cop's suicide is disturbing. It's as if the movie makers are trying to say that the woman died because of the boy. Overall this film is bizarre, unrealistic, and of questionable moral taste. Full Review »