TIFF 2019 Film Review: “Coppers” (2019) ★★★

It’s not easy to be a cop; an individual who is forced to witness reality the way it is. The life we live is not as good as we think it is, and they know that better than we can ever do. And what we should gather from all of it, as citizens, as someone whose life might depend on one of those officers some of us may dislike – is that their job is not to be liked. Their main duty is to serve and protect the most vulnerable people they promised to stand for, no matter what.

Featuring retired police officers, “Coppers” from Alan Zweig offers an honest, hard-to-process narrative of police coppers’ experience in the line of duty that starts with the witnessing of a horrifying car crash scene which ended with the death of a child. All the information we get throughout their interview is heartbreaking but, in the meantime, an eye-opening dark experience where we will be left alone throughout as some gruesome images appear before our eyes.

Not the entire story is based on what bad people did to the good people or what the officers had to go through, although it also opens up about their PTSD, work harassment against a Chinese native female officer who had to quit her job due to the growing pressure at work she was no longer able to handle. Alan Zweig, the writer and director of “Coppers”, asks the right questions, leaving his documentary subjects to answer each and every one of them despite the capacity of answers to shake anyone to the core.

For instance, one of the officers share his experience about how he had to pretend to be a child while he created an online account on a porn website to catch not only sex offenders but the hidden pedophiles who would collect thousands and thousands of photos of minors to fill the website with the scarily graphic content of children. Just to watch that scene alone won’t be enough to be prepared psychologically or mentally as it’s painful to even realize what all those officers needed to do to fulfill their duty. They effectively damaged themselves to the level where there is no way back out of that darkness as the harsh reality of life is like the Bermuda triangle that’s entrapped them inside forever.

In the end, having seen a few of Alan Zweig’s documentaries before, “Coppers” is by far one of his finest and powerful documentary features that is important to be seen by anyone who is skeptical towards police officers. This film not going to help you to have them respect more, love them or hate them, rather it will allow you to understand the difficult job officers on duty, or off it, learn the stories most of us never hear of. The feature cleverly removes the viewer from its comfort zone and transports them to the world outside of their houses where they know no trouble until the moment “Coppers’” opening credits begin to roll.

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