BFI Flare 2021 ‘Poppy Field’ Review: Brothers in Arms

Cristi (Conrad Mericoffer) is a gay man and a police officer in Romania. After a tense visit from his lover and sister, he finds his dual identities in conflict with each other as he is caught policing a homophobic protest in a cinema screening a gay film. When an ex-lover in the crowd recognises him, he is forced to chose which side he is truly on.

This tense drama avoids cliché. Although it doesn’t shy away from the homophobic attitudes of his colleagues, a great deal of effort is made in humanising his brothers in arms. They may even know more about his life than he realises. Were he to be more honest he may find them more supportive than his actual family, all of whom seem to be waiting out his gay “phase”.

The claustrophobia of the theatre and the close filming style sees our character trapped in a world he does not feel safe in. A particularly memorable anecdote involving a lost dog demonstrates the limits of his compassion and empathy. As his actions become costlier, the lengths he will go to protect his fragile reputation with his unit become more and more frightening. He’s the product of a divided society, terrified of the shame he is partially charged with enforcing.

Four Stars

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