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Venice Film Festival (#110 of 22)

Venice Film Festival 2013 The Police Officer’s Wife, Locke, & The Sacrament

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Venice Film Festival 2013: The Police Officer’s Wife, Locke, & The Sacrament

Venice Film Festival

Venice Film Festival 2013: The Police Officer’s Wife, Locke, & The Sacrament

From the rough-hewn humanism of Gary Oldman’s Nil by Mouth to the shiny Hollywood treatment of the Ike and Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It? and everything in between, cinema has found a host of ways to portray domestic violence. But rarely can the subject have been addressed in as conceptually high-handed, chilly, and patronizing a manner as in Philip Gröning’s 175-minute slog The Police Officer’s Wife. Perhaps aiming to evoke the ruptured fabric of the small family unit on which the film focuses, but achieving only a frustratingly distancing effect, Gröning employs a self-consciously fragmented structure. The film unfolds in 59 discrete passages of varying length, each of which is bookended by excruciatingly unnecessary, fade-in-and-out captions reading “Beginning of Chapter” and “End of Chapter.” The Venice crowd initially laughed at the clanging pomposity of this device, and then became progressively, audibly, more irritated; it had easily the most walkouts of any film I saw at the festival.