Coup de torchon (Clean Slate) (1981)
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Based on pulp master Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280, Bertrand Tavernier's Coup de Torchon is a sardonic thriller that remains true to its source's spirit, even as it transposes the action from the American South to colonial West Africa. Lucien (Philippe Noiret) is the bumbling police chief of Bourkasa, a dusty outpost in rural Senegal. Badgered by local thugs, Lucien initially comes across as a pathetic oaf unable to stand up for himself. Things at home are scarcely better, as Lucien finds himself harried by his nagging wife, Huguette (Stéphane Audran), who is carrying on an affair with a man she claims to be her brother (Eddy Mitchell). Without warning, Lucien embarks on a nonchalant killing spree, murdering everyone who has ever mistreated him. As he sets about "cleaning the slate," Lucien intensifies his affair with ditsy Rose (Isabelle Huppert), all the while pining for the newly arrived schoolteacher, Anne (Irene Skobline). Remaining above suspicion even as bodies pile up, the seemingly witless Lucien gradually develops a twisted logic for his actions, animating his crusade with an evangelical purpose. By movie's end, Tavernier leaves little room for redemption, leaving the joyless Lucien mired in a moral quagmire of his own making. ~ Elbert Ventura, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Coup de torchon (Clean Slate)
Shifting the locale of Jim Thompson's novel to Colonial Africa, Tavernier has made a compelling, well acted film.
Audience Reviews for Coup de torchon (Clean Slate)
This was not my favorite Jim Thompson book, but Tavernier's vision is brilliant. Truly a film of nihilism, even more awry by the jazzy score and jumpy camera revealing Noiret's diminishing psychological state. The French African colony setting was a perfect for this translation.
Coup de Torchon (Clean Slate) shifts the action of Jim Thompson's rural noir novel Pop 1280 from Texas around the time of World War One to Senegal on the eve of World War Two. Despite the geographic change the film is largely true to the novel's plot and style. Philippe Noiret is brilliant as the sole police officer of a small French colonial town on the edge of the desert. The supporting cast is also excellent. Direction, cinematography, sets, musical score and use of local color are all superbly handled. Like much of Thompson's oeuvre the story blend particularly violent noir style with brilliant dark humor and a nihilistic amorality. A great piece of entertainment for the viewer who is not easily offended.
An awesome,strong,and disturbing black comedy based on Jim Thompson's pulp novel "Pop. 1280",but reset in 1936 Equatorial Africa. Philippe Noiret is pitch-perfect as a saintly madman in a world where the concepts of good and evil have no meaning,and Isabelle Huppert is also wonderful as his sexy and beautiful mistress. A film that force us to identify with someone whom circumstance force to do terrible things. Fascinating and enthralling all the way,with an evocative and jazzy score and great cinematography,it's one of the best film-noir from France,one of the best examination of the dark side of man from the master hands of Bertrand Tavernier,an incredible film!
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