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Interview: Maïwenn Talks The Research And Multiple Cuts Of 'Polisse'

Photo of Christopher Bell By Christopher Bell | The Playlist May 17, 2012 at 6:50PM

After playing the victim in '70s horror throwback "High Tension" and directing the comparatively light dramedy "Actress' Ball," French thespian/filmmaker Maïwenn yearned for something a bit more serious. So what better topic to tackle than one focusing on France's Child Protection Unit (CPU)?
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Polisse

It's A Barrel O' Laughs
Speaking of balance, the filmmaker made sure to include plenty of humor within "Polisse," exhibiting how the officers deal with the frequent mayhem of the job. "I didn't want it to get too heavy. I thought the danger of the film was to go in a direction of victimization and pathos, so I wanted to balance that out," she noted. One scene involves a young teen confidently explaining how she performed fellatio in order to get her cellphone -- a dead-face confession that causes the entire unit to erupt in laugher. "I think that's life, too. You go to a burial, you giggle, that kind of stuff happens. That's how I respond, that's my life." While these moments were contained in the script, Maïwenn also thought the actual shooting amplified the humor.

Polisse
Pedophilia
Seeing as the CPU deals heavily with charges of pedophilia -- and, to make matters more complicated, whether the accuser is actually telling the truth or not -- one of the more curious omissions is the threat of online predators. While the filmmaker did want to tackle these kind of cases, she saw no morally appropriate way to do it. "How can you talk about the internet or what's going on in that sector without showing images? I had a choice: either I cast child actors who were going to play in scenes with pedophiles, or I had to buy pedophile pornography. My conscience refused both options," she admitted. "But I did have a shot with the girl putting her hand in her underwear. It was a little frustrating for me to not be able to go further because there were a lot of things I could've shown, but it wasn't possible."

The Future
For "Polisse," you'll find more than one comparison to the lauded, gritty HBO program "The Wire." Given the film's numerous characters and cases, the television format could lend plenty to her script -- an idea she was approached with as well. "I think the Americans want to buy the film rights to make a series out of it. I'd like to have some part of it, the experience would be good -- it'd be a new venture. There's a lot of substance there, there's endless possibilities of where it could go." There are few details there, and it's unclear how much of a sure thing it is. Similarly, Maïwenn herself seems to be unsure what's next, but did mention a type of project she'd like to do somewhere down the line: "A vacation film, like three months in the Bahamas or something. I love those kind of movies and would love to do one. Friends go on holiday together and something happens to them, etc." Despite its humor, "Polisse" still deals with grave topics, and it appears she's ready for something a bit lighter… unless one of the friends murders someone. Well, at least the location is sublime.

This article is related to: Maiwenn, Polisse, Interview


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