Coup de torchon (Clean Slate) (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

Coup de torchon (Clean Slate) (1981)

Coup de torchon (Clean Slate)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Coup de torchon (Clean Slate) Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

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, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Jean Aurenche, Bertrand Tavernier
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 1, 1998


Philippe Noiret
as Lucien Cordier
Jean-Pierre Marielle
as Le Peron, Le Peron's...
Stéphane Audran
as Hughuette Cordier
Guy Marchand
as Chavasson
Michel Beaune
as Vanderbrouck
Victor Garrivier
as Mercaillou
François Perrot
as Col. Tramichel
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Coup de torchon (Clean Slate)

Critic Reviews for Coup de torchon (Clean Slate)

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Shifting the locale of Jim Thompson's novel to Colonial Africa, Tavernier has made a compelling, well acted film.

Full Review… | June 10, 2011

Clean Slate is a compelling offbeat morality play.

Full Review… | February 4, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

It's often hilarious. It's just that that humor is so mordant that it's sometimes hard to accept.

Full Review… | July 16, 2002

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.

Stefanie C

Super Reviewer


A intriguing morality tale with sprinkles of dark humor, sex and violence leaving a film that stays with you. Great direction, script and acting.

Anthony Valletta

Super Reviewer

A wonderfully shot mix of drama, noir and gallows humor. Arguably Philippe Noiret's best performance.

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