Bertrand Tavernier’s rowdy, broad, unsettling moral tale (1981) of a corrupt minor law-enforcement official in French colonial Africa who, tired of being pushed around by his wife, colleagues, friends, and the local pimps, decides to enforce more law than anybody wants. Like Jacques Becker in Goupi Mains Rouges, Tavernier follows screwball comedy out to its other side as madness: you’re never sure whether what you’re watching is high spirits or insanity, and the characters keep reversing themselves. Working with two veterans of the French “tradition of quality,” set designer Alexandre Trauner and coscenarist Jean Aurenche, Tavernier created one of the freshest French films in years—it has wit, dash, and fiber. With Philippe Noiret, Isabelle Huppert, Stephane Audran, Eddy Mitchell, and Guy Marchand. In French with subtitles.
Coup de Torchon
2 hours 8 min