Gröning is best known for his 2005 documentary Into Great Silence, which examined life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the reclusive Carthusian Order in France. Similarly, The Police Officer's Wife's inherent strangeness resides in isolation, both for the couple and their idyllic surroundings. We never see them interact with anyone, with the exception of a few scenes of the officer at work. This isn't a brutal film per se - though there are few scenes of violence - but over the near three-hour runtime we gradually notice the wife's demeanour change and see the bruises getting bigger and darker. The obsession with narrative explanation visàvis emotional cause and effect is completely absent. This is a film of objects, space and the acceptance of the unexplained which is thought less of than mere understanding of a personal contextualisation that we can never hope to understand.
The Police Officer's Wife's power lies in the cognitive explosions it sets within the subconscious of the viewer that forcefully interacts with the formally audacious claustrophobic rhythms. Gröning's latest could easily be approached as a philosophical tract on the idea of how to watch cinema; a palate cleanser that illuminates an approach that demands an openness of mind and body which is slowly becoming a forgotten trait. One thinks of the idea of negative capability - not Keats' poetic idea but the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion's interpretation; the ability to tolerate the pain and confusion of not knowing, rather than imposing ready-made or overreaching certainties upon an ambiguous situation.