Coup de torchon (1981) Poster

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A Great Film
mojoan13 February 2005
This is one of my favorite films. After all these years, it holds up beautifully. It's surreal, funny, tragic, strange, and somehow all holds together.

Noiret is wonderful, and a great foil for Huppert, with his hang-dog looks and understated acting. Although he plays a policeman, Noiret's character makes his own decisions about justice without the need for pesky government interference.

Isabelle Huppert and Stephane Audran are also perfect in their roles.

The cinematography is superb, with beautiful shots of Africa.

It's hard to categorize this movie, but Coup de Torchon is a must see! I think I've seen it 4 times.
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A film noir in pastel
Souscolline20 February 2005
Bertrand Tavernier has taken the novel "TOP 1280" by Jim Thompson set in North Carolina and produced a riveting French film noir set in Senegal in 1938. At that time it was a French colony that exhibited similar social and racial patterns as in the American South. The use of color and humor add a new dimension to the genre. Tavernier in his comments about the film on the DVD talks about the change in the light in the late afternoon in west Africa. It becomes less intense so he uses pastel colors. Note the light blue walls and the pink shirt of Philippe Noiret who is superb as the village policeman Cordier. Isabelle Huppert who plays the mistress of Cordier with intensity and humor and the other actors make this a must see film. There is much humor in the film but be aware that there are many violent scenes. This is French film noir at it's best.
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A mirror of human nature.
oglydoglin26 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
This very intelligent-made film is not what it seems. Many viewers can't seem to overcome the so called change after 20 minutes or so. It is clear that Lucien Cordier (Philippe Noiret) is very well aware of who and what he is -from the beginning of the film. The mere fact that he acts in function of his later deeds, makes this film not a "real time" story, but something of a far more mythological nature. He is destiny, in a biblical sense of the word. The crimes he commits are what his victimes deserve. As in many European films, they tell you not just the story, but an Idea behind it. In my opinion, he is some sort of a Jesus, but with all to human deficits. He uses human means to act as a God, in order to make us aware of our own deeds. Everyone he kills think they can get away with their "sins". His deeds are revolting, -but that is the whole point: he is us, used by the director who holds nothing but a mirror in front of human nature. The lack of his morality, is a nothing else than a clue for Taverniers view on humanity. Typically a great film, that should be viewed more than once!
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ukkid354 July 2012
One of the best films I've ever seen, period.

I have never laughed so much, then felt so guilty. BT is a genius.

Every moment is pure gold, every second to be treasured.

Like the best detective stories ever written, the puzzle is the least of the viewer's concerns. But rather BT submerges us in a world with which we are probably totally unfamiliar, and yet we never doubt it for a second.

The cast is peerless, with Noiret rewarding the viewer with his most perfectly nuanced/sympathetic/anti- hero imaginable. No one has ever been denied an Oscar so cruelly.

I have promised myself I will share this with everyone who is important to me, woe betide me if I fail.
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Noir, south of heaven
chaos-rampant7 February 2011
I saw this as part of a Jim Thompson quest.

The film opens with a solar eclipse, a mythic way perhaps of foreshadowing the eclipse of humanity and values that follows. The West African setting is only proper in that aspect, like the setting of the Jim Thompson book, it's a doomed dusty limbo blotted out of the map where, in the absence of palpable law or ethos, humans are allowed to be the lowest they can be. Elsewhere the world is perhaps striving to maintain a moral appearance, but not so in Bourkassa, no one is looking there. Thompson had a dark view of humanity, for his own reasons, and for his protagonists, his crazed sheriffs and murderous sociopaths, he seems to reserve a last word that justifies their existence.

It's a really funny film, as a comedy it works marvels, and I like how Tavernier shifts the tone light to dark, goofy to perverse.

But what about Codier, the policeman of the small African town at the edge of the desert? Another reviewer reads in him a deranged figure of destiny that smites down people who deserve it, a vengeful Jesus placed on this earth not to save souls but to release them. But, even though his folly is obvious, the lack of retribution for his acts, the lack of a destiny to smite him, is it omission or statement? In an amoral universe that defies order, Codier is perhaps trying to maintain a perverse moral ground, or he's only serving his own bastard self, pushing his luck to see how far it will get him. If the film was a thriller it might have not worked, but I saw an absurd comedy foremost, and the laughter of that amoral universe is also echoed in Codier himself.

When he goes on on his little soliloquis on existence, Tavernier reaches for a solemn tone that seems strange at first, but at least we can understand that this murderous buffoon is no better than anyone else around him. He's likable because he suffers indignity with the nonchalance of a Mr. Hulot, but the next day he'll wake up a coward killer and scumbag. This contrast and his own belief in the incorrigible of his actions makes the movie work.

Perhaps he's so successful at being a scumbag, because the rest of the world permits it. If everyone else around him is either a moron or a scumbag, why should he strive to be any better? As a human being he's pathetic, but as a movie character I find him fascinating to watch. The fatalism that everyone gets what he deserves and there's no escaping the cogs of fate is the icing here.
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Brutal, darkly humorous and brilliantly done film noir
wglenn19 May 2002
Jim Thompson meets Joseph Conrad in a small, dusty town in Senegal. The writing is excellent throughout, delving into themes that most films would never have the guts to handle. Brutal, darkly humorous and brilliantly done. A great, great film noir. Not a movie for those easily offended (though one they should probably see and learn from.)
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POP. 1280 on film
John Shane24 March 2013
After reading some of the reviews on here, I felt compelled to write one myself simply because it seems most of the people who reviewed this film did not read the book it was based on (POP 1280 by Jim Thompson). Some found it astonishing that one would actually seek out this book in the first place (including the director), but I happen to be a Jim Thompson junkie and I would say POP 1280 stands as his best work in the "psycho-lawman" sub-genre that he single-handedly created. It's far superior to the Killer Inside Me although many would disagree with that. Long ago, when I found out there was an actual film based on this book, I had to find it and see it. Luckily it was at my local blockbuster, and I rushed home to view this take on one of my favorite Thompson books. I have to say, it was a bit off-putting to see the whole story transposed to Senegal. However, as the film played, I realized that this was actually quite a brilliant move by Bernard. Aside from the location and French actors, everything else is mostly retained from the book in terms of the dark humor and over-the-top situations. The acting is superb and the cinematography is just gritty enough to give it the feel it needs. This is one of the best Thompson adaptations and I highly recommend it, especially if you have read the novel. I also recommend seeking out Serie_Noire which is the French adaptation of A Hell of A Woman. It's not as good as this one, but it's still excellent.
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in my top ten
deng4312 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
let's see - our reviewers have, to date, set the novel in Texas, the Carolinas, Kansas and Florida. does it matter? no, because this is one of the best films ever made, and where you think it should have been set doesn't matter a bit. and don't be put off by comments of this being about an idiot who finally gets offended and runs amuck, or a serial killer, or that it lacks the suspense a good thriller needs,or that the film is a failed noir; it is a noir that breaks the mold and never tries to insert venetian blinds into colonial Africa. it is a film that has enough layers that after 4 viewings i am sure i have not plumbed them at all well. i just cannot imagine what some of these reviewers were watching; it really isn't for everyone. if your shtick is political correctness, skip this one - it is just full of people saying 'ni--er'. people say the eff-word, as well. go somewhere else if this offends. but if you are interested in what makes folks tick, and how much odd crap lurks just beneath your own skin and by extension that it isn't yours alone; it belongs to all of us - then just go see the movie. a remake? might as well remake Golgotha and see if you can't improve on the tone of the moment, or get the message across better....
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Africa Screams
writers_reign31 May 2004
Looking at the slew of negative comments that this movie has racked up I can't help wondering what drew these people to it in the first place. What drew ME were the names attached to it, Tavernier, one of THE great contemporary French directors, Phillipe Noiret and Isabelle Huppert, two all-time GREAT French actors. Okay, everyone has the occasional off day but when you get to THIS level of writing, acting, directing, even the bad ones eclipse by a country mile the BEST of such joke talents as Godard and Tarentino and this particular entry is far from bad if anybody asks you. So I'm left with the inescapable conclusion that all these whingers must have wandered into the movie theater thinking they were going to see Gidget Goes Hawaian or How To Stuff A Wild Bikini in which case it is easy to understand their misgivings. For the record this is an excellent example of The Biter Bit aka The Worm Turns and all the ingredients are out of the right bottle and come together in a heady and satisfying brew. 8/10
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Sympathy for the Devil
popcorninhell21 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Lucien (Philippe Noiret) our thickset protagonist is a bit of a beguiling figure. On the surface he possesses all the traits of a villain or the very least a very unlikeable human-being. He's lazy and selfish; he carries on a lustful affair with a married and abused woman (Isabelle Huppert) and sees his position (a provincial sheriff) as an inconvenience not even bothering to arrest people who knowingly break serious laws. Furthermore he's utterly weak-willed; hen-pecked by his wife (Stephane Audran) and her peculiar brother (Eddy Mitchell) and harassed by his superiors in the provincial capital. What's worse a ballsy pimp who enjoys shooting cadavers in the local river decides humiliation is better than bribery as a means to getting what he wants. Something in Lucien finally snaps and he uses his only two advantages to rid the world of his problems; his intelligence and his remote location.

Coup de Torchon (1981) takes place "at the edge of civilization" on the outskirts of a French African colony mere months before WWII. Barely accessible by train, Lucien's small colorful town is a cesspool of disease, decay and crime to which Alex turns from idle bystander to perverted exterminating angel. Yet it is the way he pulls off his various revenges that is at once beguiling and disturbing. Every situation is pre-calculated and seemingly natural. Lucien never loses his sincerity or blows his cover which makes everything he does absolutely shocking. One minute he's shooting a man in the stomach, the next he's genteel with his mistress.

At one point Lucien remarks that he is the devil incarnate which while giving him a bit too much credit nevertheless plays into the themes of good and evil in the film. The story is bookended by a scene where Lucien is acting as a Prometheus-like figure to a group of African children; then by another where he aims his shotgun at one of the same children as a boy stares at him blankly. As morality and civilization crumbles throughout the film, the often felt but never seen rise of Nazism promises to obfuscate the sins of the reckless sheriff. Finally there's the character of the new school teacher (Irene Skobline) who exemplifies all that is good and innocent. At the end of the film when war is finally declared, Lucien dances with her as if she were the spoils of his hedonistic one man war.

As despicable as his actions are however, Lucien remains a charming central figure. Like Shakespeare's Iago, his mischievousness is hidden by an innocuous face and harmless, good-natured wit. Unlike in Bad Lieutenant (1997) this cop doesn't let the audience sit on the sidelines and say "there but by the grace of God go I." Coup de Torchon seduces you into indulging in Lucien's Machiavellian plans and for an instant lets you have sympathy for the devil.
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unsettling comedy-drama set in colonial Africa
Michael Neumann12 November 2010
Bertrand Tavernier once again shows why he's one of his country's most challenging directors with this disturbing dark comedy, loosely adapted from a Jim Thompson novel ('POP 1280') but relocated to French Equatorial Africa just before World War II. The story follows a lazy, ineffective police chief in a dusty colonial city, who begins to manipulate his tormentors in much the same way they earlier abused him, discovering along the way the omnipotence of his position and the immunity provided by his reputation as an incompetent buffoon. After suffering the indignities of a natural born doormat all his life, he strikes back with a vengeance, slowly descending into a rational madness that commands sympathy while simultaneously provoking moral outrage (at one point he callously murders the innocent native servant who mistakenly witnessed on of his killings). Tavernier builds the tension from his characters rather than from the plot, using touches of unsettling black humor to further blur the line dividing comedy and tragedy.
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very oddly humorous and cold at the same time, and a curiously moving, low-key performance
MisterWhiplash30 May 2009
Lucien Cordier is not like most cops. He's a main chief in a West African village where white people are the minority though, in 1938, are as racist and sexist as can be. He's also not a very good cop, as he barely ever arrests anyone and his authority can be challenged pretty quickly, even by two scummy pimps. He's like the pushover kid in a playground who may be a nice guy, but he's also not quite strong enough to actually attain the authority needed to stand up against the bullies. That is until Lucien decides to fight back, in a manner that is at a calm extreme; an oxymoron, perhaps, but watching Lucien is an oxymoron in human form, but a fascinating one. He'll kill someone, anyone, he thinks of as an enemy to him, shooting a man in the back, the pimps, or even the man who helps him dig a grave. He calmly explains some of the whys, but he never goes too ballistic. Lucien is a man of principles, but to say exactly what or why is a mystery.

This is what makes Coup de tochon, or Clean Slate, based on the Jim Thompson novel Pop 1280 (mentioned in passing as Pop. 1275 for no good reason at one point in the film), is about this man who is warm, lustful, proud, and perhaps a not entirely bright but not stupid either. And as played by Philippe Noiret he makes this film compulsively watchable. The supporting cast, such as Isabelle Hupert and Jean-Pierre Marielle, don't fare too badly either, but it's Noiret that elevates this to something more than director Bertrand Tavernier could have expected. He gives a performance that is intense without ever being over the top, and thoughtful while seemingly aloof in some points. He makes Lucien a guy we might like to know or talk to for a little while, until we see the veneer peel away, a fragile man who has been pushed around by his bosses and his wife (Stephan Audran) and in a position with such little power that the only way to bust loose is senseless killing. As he says, "Would a man with these eyes be a killer?"

Tavernier's direction is lax and smooth, jagged with some documentary style and realism (it was shot all on location, and it looks it always), but there's also a distance I felt to many of the scenes, a deliberate attempt to strip down film-noir elements to light absurdism mixed with sardonic tragedy. There are some great moments, don't get me wrong: the scene with the film screened for the village people at night that gets ruined by a windstorm as the audio keeps playing on with the film cut off and people scrambling for cover; the first killing scene of the pimps where Lucien becomes a larger threat with every passing second leading up to a predictable but still shocking climax; an ending, which I won't mention here.

It has such moments, but I wasn't very moved by Coup de torchon throughout, and it's not directed with the surest hand. And yet, I have to give it to Philippe Noiret: in any other film noir he'd be out of place, and yet here, he's perfect.
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European script based on American novel
Eric Van den Bossche11 July 2006
One of the best films ever on my regard. It is possible that European viewers are more familiar with the colonial history behind it, though the script is based on an American novel (Pop.1280 by Jim Thompson). The original story is based in America, but here it is based in a French-African colony in the 1930's.

The baseline is a global truth: everybody has his breaking point.

Great acting performances by everyone involved.

Don't forget to check out the other films by this French director; he often shows he's one of the best!

And while you're there: some of the best movies (Tati, Resnais, Truffaut...) ever were made in France; so are some of the worst(DO NOT check out French comedies, they are mostly awful)
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I don't think this was meant to be a comedy.
the_module21 April 2002
I watched this movie without reading any prior description of it. I thought this was an excellent film - very philosophical. I never once thought of it as a comedy until I read the video box after watching the tape. Now I come here and see people saying that it wasn't funny. Well, I think that possibly it was just marketed incorrectly and it quite possibly was not intended as comedy at all. Keep that in mind, but do see this movie if you appreciate thoughtful cinema.
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Ambitious failure?
ThurstonHunger23 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In general the Criterion Collection has been pretty reliable for me, and while I'm glad I came across this film, I see it as a somewhat ambitious failure. I have not read the Thompson novel from which it was drawn, but transplanting a story from the American South to crumbling colonial West Africa alone is inspired.

If the film is a comedy, then it did not work me. The melding of slapstick with social commentary ran thin for me, but again it could just be that I lack le bone funny. At least I recognized parts here that likely were intended to be ribald (as opposed to some Japanese humor, where I'm often completely lost).

Perhaps it is not that the humor is stupid (although the recurring dimwit incest interlude and the outhouse surprise...surely push it), but that the characters are stupid. That being said, the lead character it is of course crucial that you see him as a bozo of sorts, but behind his broad caricature of indolence, is there some intuition or even initiative stashed away? Again, an ambitious choice to have an apparent laggard as your lead character. He's seen as perpetually exhausted and at the same time amazingly lazy. An inept if not corrupt sheriff, but potentially very fair-minded. A slothful yet irresistible sex machine? That character alone was worth the watch for me, especially a couple of more serious discussions he has.

But ultimately what does the film do? Take us from the joys of a meaningless existence to the tragedy of a meaningless existence. The directors sets up some of the early kills as somewhat justified, only to move through less and less "necessary" slaughter ending abruptly with the image of innocence being as wantonly wasted? And that image is meant to tie back visually to the films start, as if to imply this is just the way of the world. A cycle of violence.

Does this excuse our pot-bellied peculiar policeman? Do his messianic delusions even make sense, as he plots to seduce the "pure" schoolteacher? And do the three women intentionally seem to similar, as if they are plots along the same curve and that curve is a circle.

I don't know, and regrettably I did not care as much as I should have. Perhaps the clumsiness of the film that might pass as charm for other viewers? Perhaps the predictable randiness, that even a few decades ago felt like a use of sex as cheap titillation.

Is it just a parable of despair? Is it just a jokey eulogy for the colonial ways, saying adieu to its greed, stupidity and savagery? I don't know, that's why it gets a 5/10 for me... I do know that it makes me want to read the Thompson novel to see what inspired Tavernier to take on this.

See what you think, but if you think I'm too harsh on the stupidity of the film, I hope you get the DVD that offers the proposed alternate ending with two monkeys... Ugh...that would have got a 3/10.
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Great cinema
grendel-2813 April 1999
A rather grim movie, that as you can tell from other comments is not for everyone. But assuming that you do have brains by all means go (rent) and see the movie. A great period piece about misadventures of an unlikely serial killer in French Africa. The first twenty or so minutes of the movie are spent setting the unlikeliness of the killer who appears to be treated as a door mat by just about everyone untill the tables are turned. And are they turned indeed... Once started to kill our hero has to keep it up trying to cover his tracks and the only thing you are left to wonder is whether he can pull it off and cover everything up.
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An interesting idea and worth seeing, but it manages to miss the mark when all is said and done...
MartinHafer24 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I adored the first half hour or so of this film. Then, sadly, the film seemed to lose its way--mostly because the main character was practically impossible to understand or appreciate. To put it bluntly, his motivation and actions stopped making sense. BUT, as there are so many interesting elements to the film, it's still worth seeing...though it clearly misses the mark.

The film follows the actions of an ineffectual policeman in French West Africa just before the Second World War. Lucien (Philippe Noiret) does nothing as sheriff but collect a paycheck and ignore crime. He is clearly a cuckold in regard to his job and his relationships. Crooks break laws and mock him and his wife openly carries on an affair with her 'brother' right in front of him. You really feel bad for the guy, so when out of the blue he begins paying these people back, you are thrilled--even when he begins, in some cases, killing people. The murder victims really do 'have it coming' and you want to see Lucien to get away with it.

Later, however, the film gets pretty muddled. First, he ends up killing an innocent guy simply because he knew too much--and it was hard to feel sympathy for Lucien--particularly because before this you did like him a lot because he DID stand up for the black natives--though not obviously so. So, he went from a secret savior of the Africans to just another white !@@#$ and nothing more. Second, there were some allegorical religious elements that seemed incongruous. He began to see himself as like Jesus meting out retribution to evil-doers--but ended up looking more like Satan or the Angel of Death--or just a real jerk! This religious angle really just clouds the film--not enhances it. Third, I was a psychotherapist and psychology teacher and I STILL had a hard time understanding Lucien--his character, though interesting, made little sense and just confused me. With a bit of a rewrite, this could have gone from a good and thought-provoking film to a classic. Too bad--it did sure excite my interest.
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Pop 1280.
morrison-dylan-fan28 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Despite seeing his name mentioned in connection with French cinema for a number of years,I've never had the chance to see a work from auteur Bertrand Tavernier. Getting set for a poll on the best films of 1981 on ICM,I took a look at French movies from the year,and was thrilled to spot to see Tavernier take on Jim Thompson!,which led to me flying the coup.

The plot:

1938-A French colony in West Africa.

Being one of the few "symbols" of law and order in the colony,police officer Lucien Cordier shows a disregard for the powers which matches the state of his personal life,where his wife Huguette has invited a "fake brother"/lover round to live with them,and Cordier himself tries starting an affair up with Rose Mercaillou. Treating black people as lower than dirt, Cordier overlooks any misdeeds with the mere fistful of a bribe. Annoyed at two pimps questioning his power,Cordier asks for advice from fellow officer Marcel Chavasson,who tells him to "act forcibly" which leads to Cordier using a bit too much force in the colony.

View on the film:

Appearing in Cordier's life like a flower in the desert, Isabelle Huppert gives an impeccable performance as Rose Mercaillou,with Huppert giving Rose pointed petals which get burnt by the simmering Noir frustrations of Cordier. Keeping her other lover secret, Stéphane Audran gives a great, consistently changing performance as Huguette Cordier,whose flirting with the toyboy Audran turns to stone at the mere whiff of her husband Lucien.

Stomping round the colony like a crusty warthog, Philippe Noiret gives a magnificent performance as Lucien Cordier. Wanting to do as little work as possible,Noiret gives Cordier an unsettling casual attitude to fights on the street,and signs of annoyance at even the suggestion of helping out black people in the colony. Taking officer Chavasson's advice, Noiret sands down to the Neo-Noir veins of Cordier,that are pulled with a friction over Cordier overstepping in the land.Dissecting the original US setting for a French African colony,co- writer/(with Jean Aurenche) director Bertrand Tavernier & cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn retain the Noir roots with a blistering evil under the sun atmosphere, that makes the sights of the local mob and Cordier gunning his own brand of justice clear to see,in the cold light of day.

Shot on location, Tavernier seeps the Noir mood with the grit and dry blood of the colony in elegantly held tracking shots following Cordier's descent into vicious contempt.Moving from the Deep South of Thompson's book,the screenplay by Bertrand Tavernier and Jim Thompson takes the racism over to deepest West Africa,where the horrific treatment Cordier and the whites lash out cover the screen in Noir vile. Filling Cordier's hands with dirty money that gets him to turn a blind eye,the writers brilliantly chip away at Cordier way of life and unveil a nihilism that Cordier is unable to drop back into the water and hide from the colony pop 1280.
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When a Man Has to Clean Up
zolaaar16 May 2007
The story is pure trash and that is where the film gets its charm and class from: In a French colony in Africa in 1938, Lucien Cordier (Philippe Noiret) is a policeman in a village which is mostly inhabited by Africans and only a few racist, empty-headed Europeans. He is abased by everybody and always looks away when something illegal happens. On one day, Lucien is fed up with the humiliation and starts to take revenge on his humblers.

The characters have as much depth as the ones in a Disney comic book, and the break in Lucien's behavior from the friendly, jerky cop to the murdering, planning ahead thinker seems to be quite odd, but not only for that, the story never bores. It is actually very witty with many hilarious situations: All the deeply macabre murder scenes and shot downs, a blind man who yells: "Get out of my sight!", or the dodgy relationship between Lucien, his wife, her lover, and Lucien's two mistresses, in addition to the documentary-style steady-cam, makes the whole scenery, admittedly unrealistic and bizarre, but very entertaining and, at the end, a bit thoughtful. Also, it's always a tremendous delight to watch the grand Philippe Noiret, who sadly passed away not a long time ago.
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Doormat Goes Nutzoid
Spleen14 May 2003
One of those films that's known, if at all, entirely because of its amusing title, is something listed on the IMDb as "Zeisters" but alternately titled "Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid". One suspects the alternate title is apt, too, because there's probably not a lot more to that film than a fat guy going nutzoid. "Clean Slate" could also be called, with about as little oversimplification, "Doormat Goes Nutzoid". The first part of the film sees Bertrand Tavernier, helped along by Pilippe Noiret's broad acting and more co-operation than was strictly necessary from the rest of the cast and crew, establish again and again and again that Lucien is a doormat. In a typical scene two people who are of little account themselves will take turns tripping him so that he sprawls in the dust, only to watch him get up and apologise for falling over. It's like watching George McFly from "Back to the Future".

Then, in the latter and believe it or not better part of the film, Tavernier and Noiret slam on the brakes, skid 180 degrees and show us Lucien going nutzoid, killing off whoever gets or has gotten in his way, safe from suspicion because of his established persona. The film ends when it ends.

I saw a 16mm print which did little for what I suspected was nice, crisp location photography, but it was clear enough Tavernier was trying (with success) to make the remote and somewhat neglected African village look like a bare stage; which, along with the hints of pervasive colonial corruption, was necessary to allow such a piece of conceptual art as "Doormat Goes Nutzoid" to come to life. Necessary, but not sufficient.
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a little town of 2,000 souls
bruno-chereul22 August 2003
This film is an adaptation of an U.S. novel of Jim Tompson. All his novels are precious like that of Chandler and, almost,of the Great Dashiell HAMMET!The novel is situed in the Kansas, but the film in old french Africa just before the War II. The characters are so bad as racist without any pity for the black like for each other.To my opinion we must read whole the opus of Jim Tompson and of course Larry Beinheart: "an american hero" or "Wag the dog" with De Niro and Dustin Hoffman . In Europe the "polard in french" ( novel of investigation) is the best way to know the U.S.A.But it's my opinion, no more!
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Quite a few funny events, but killing several people is not really humorous.
Charles-4310 March 1999
This film has quite a few funny events, but the film is unsatisfactory as a whole. I cannot accept the premise that killing a lot of people is really humorous. The various crude remarks about black Africans will likely be offensive to them, not amusing.
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Well-made but overlong and confused movie
gridoon20187 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"Coup De Torchon" is technically well-made and well-acted (as you'd expect from a French prestige picture), but it doesn't seem to have much of a point to make, unless it is trying to tell us, as Pauline Kael accurately puts it, that "killing on a small scale is less immoral than killing on a big scale". It begins as a pitch-black comedy, but it stops being funny when Noiret kills a completely innocent person; from that point on, it seems to have nowhere to go but down. At 123 minutes this film is too long, and it runs out of steam long before the end, although some scenes do retain their shock value. One major plus is the fresh-looking cinematography; on DVD, the film looks as if it was made only a few years ago. ** out of 4.
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Feckless Harry in Africa.
rayburnbeale13 September 2002
The main character is a corrupt, weak and feckless officer of the law in a small colonial African village. After enduring insults and beatings, he slowly changes into a kind of Dirty Harry. As in "Nobody's Fool" (Paul Newman) and "As Good As It Gets" (Jack Nicholson), a corrupt man redeems himself by acts of kindness and bravery
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ripe for a remake
barahona13 November 1999
Burt Reynolds (of all people!) once commented that it was pointless remaking classic films because of the difficulty of improving on them. Instead Hollywood would be better served by remaking movies that are either good but could be improved or that are unknown or forgotten in the first place. This French version of a Texas set novel by Jim Thompson(best known for writing the Steve McQueen thriller The Getaway) is a classic example of the second category. Set in a French African colony (it was filmed in Senegal) in the 1930's, Philipe Noiret in a terrific performance plays a passive police officer who lets everyone push him around until he discovers that a few well placed killings can get him what he wants. The plot takes a few twists and turns and ends up a satisfying little black comedy/thriller. I think some of Hollywood's middle aged action stars looking for a change of pace role might want to look into this as a possible remake. Just remember where you got the idea!
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