Review: Police Beat

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Z (Pape Sidy Niang) is a bicycle cop whose beat takes him all around a very scenic and crime-ridden section of Seattle. While on duty, this intrepid officer routinely encounters everything from prostitutes to prowlers to psychotics to muggers to scofflaws to shoplifters to homicidal maniacs to suicidal manic depressives to machete-wielding wife beaters.

While the average person might be rattled by a relentless exposure to so many disturbing sights, Z takes it all in stride. Afterall, he’s a recent immigrant from West Africa, and very happy just to be in America. Plus, although he’s a conservative Muslim, he is very attached to the white American girlfriend he met in school, Rachel (Anna Oxygen), a free-spirited, Earth Mother.

Because the relatively cosmopolitan Z doesn’t share her interest in nature, Rachel sets off on a camping trip with a man who presumably is a Platonic friend. But in her absence, Z feels pangs of possessiveness, and embarks on a never ending inner dialogue which interferes with his ability to focus on any job at hand.

So, instead of caring about bringing perpetrators to justice, he’s now wondering what Rachel is up to. Why doesn’t she return his calls? Has he been a bad lover? Z’s paranoia builds to a fever pitch, even as lawless chaos unfolds around.
This is all you need to know about Police Beat, an intelligent indie flick which is riveting, amusing, humorous and unpredictable from beginning clear through to its surprising conclusion. Kudos to star Pape Sidy Niang for delivering an endearing performance in his screen debut as the overwrought protagonist. Proof positive that you can make a memorable gem on a very modest budget.

Excellent (4 stars)
Unrated
In English and Wolof with subtitles.
Running time: 90 minutes
Studio: Anthology Film Archives

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