With domestic violence as the subject matter, it perhaps goes without saying that The Police Officer’s wife is a film to be endured rather than enjoyed. At nearly 3 hours long, with very little dialogue, its offers no obvious rewards for sitting out its run time. It’s broken in to 52 chapters of varying lengths, each chapter marked with a title card and a painfully long fade in / out to boot. It isn’t clear why this technique is used, but it certainly does nothing to help the already lengthy piece. The general narrative involves a couple, David and Christine, through their everyday routine, as they drift through what becomes an increasingly destructive relationship. It’s not obvious how much time passes or how fast, and each chapter, whilst apparently chronological, isn’t necessarily related to the other.

But what is remarkable about the film is its treatment of a subject matter so often explored in cinema, yet so often misrepresented. Films such as Nil by Mouth focus on the emotional and physical effects of abuse by depicting retch-worthy violence, and so it should, but what director Philip Groning has achieved is to show domestic violence in its most banal, basic state. Similar to Lars von Trier’s treatment of depression in Melancholia, Groning has steered well clear of showing volatile scenes of relationships breaking down, because that is only a small http://onhealthy.net/product-category/hair-loss/ part of the reality of the situation, a small part of the problem. It’s tempting to grow frustrated at fragile Christine for her inability to think clearly, her to-ing and fro-ing, her timid nature. But it’s only through understanding her as a victim that one can gain a true understanding of the day-to-day truths about domestic abuse, and Groning’s handling of it, and his bravery to treat it in such a way should be given high praise.

Interestingly, the little there is in the way of graphic imagery is presented in the day-to-day work of Police officer David. Car wrecks and other accidents are naturally part of his job, yet David manages to totally detach himself from the horror around him. He’s not repelled, intrigued or haunted by what he sees, he’s emotionless. He lacks any ability to associate violence with his home life, maybe he’s a psychopath, or more likely because he sees some sort of justification in his own behaviour. His manipulation of the couple’s daughter, his controlling behaviour, his sinister expressions, are far, for more affective in drumming home the tragedy of such a situation.

It’s not for everyone, granted, and some would argue that its obvious flaws are beyond redeemable, but at its core The Police Officer’s Wife is a vital piece of cinema; courageous and gut-wrenching in spite of its errors.