Poppy Field is about a Romanian gay cop whose team is called out to deal with a homophobic protest of a lesbian movie at a local cinema. There he is recognised by an old flame, who threatens to out him to his workmates, and gets a punch in the kisser for his troubles.
The film starts with Cristi deflecting his hot French Muslim boyfriend’s attempts to go away for a romantic weekend, but the vast majority of the film takes place at the cinema, almost like a bottle episode where all the action is confined to this one location. From the trailer I had thought the stuff at the protest was very crash! bang! then the consequences played out, but it’s basically just 12 hours in the life. Which makes it incredibly tense. Because the protest starts fairly sedate with the homophobes just standing in front of the screen and singing the national anthem. But they won’t leave, and the audience gets sick of their shit, and the tension in the room just ramps up. And the cops kinda just want an easy shift, and are less concerned about the politics than they are with the arseache of dealing with this all night. And Cristi is just standing there listening to all this homophobic bilge being shouted over him, trying not to react, and supposedly trying to de-escalate the situation while the turmoil inside him gets more and more exacerbated. And then an old boyfriend recognises him and his stress level dials to 100, and when he kinda half-jokes about outing him, Cristi snaps and decks him.
And then, because all cops are bastards, his teammates all band together to cover up his hate crime by sticking him in the now-empty auditorium while they deal with the mess. And the film is just cringworthily tense as he just has to sit there, in this big, empty, silent theatre, and wait to see if he’s actually been outed. If he’s gonna lose his job for attacking a citizen. If the story is gonna turn the protest outside into a riot. Oh, it’s so good.
What I like about the film is, it doesn’t tell you what to think about all of this. I mean, I had limited sympathy for Cristi, but I could definitely see how you would, and there’s no judgement placed on where you fall on that question. One of the saddest bits in the movie for me was, after various cops coming in to check on Cristi and telling him he’s a fucking arsehole for causing even more trouble for them to deal with, his best mate on the squad comes in and is like, I’ve got your back, and you’re reaction is “Aww, yeay” and then he follows it up with, “Fucking faggots”, and you’re just like “Oh”. And you watch Cristi’s expression as he deals with this mix of emotions, and you just think, “Well you got what you wanted. Here’s your support.”
A tense and engaging film.