Coup de torchon (Clean Slate)

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 6


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,251
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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, Rovi


Critic Reviews for Coup de torchon (Clean Slate)

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (5) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for Coup de torchon (Clean Slate)

  • Aug 27, 2009
    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
  • Aug 27, 2009
    Transposing Jim Thompson's novel to a wholly different culture was a master stroke by director Bertrand Tavernier, who explores the colonialist mindset and its delusional god complex and warped sense of justice through its main character's philosophy, sexuality, and dark humour. A clueless, coward and lazy but seemingly bening police captain in a French colonial town begins to experience evil with the help of town folks, soon he himself will be the main instigator of bloodshed, and he will be convinced that it is all for a righteous cause
    Pierluigi P Super Reviewer
  • Mar 22, 2008
    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 V Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2007
    this French rendition of an American pulp novel captures methodical violence and various other forms of amorality in a morbidly funny and unconventional way
    Derek W Super Reviewer

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