Dir. Bertrand Tavernier, 1981, 128 min, 35 mm
With Isabelle Huppert, Philippe Noiret, Stéphane Audran
In French with English subtitles
Bertrand Tavernier’s adaptation of Jim Thompson’s classic pulp novel Pop. 1280 transposes the story of a spineless Texas police chief turned murderer to French West Africa in 1938, providing a subtext of colonial decadence and disgrace.
Isabelle Huppert stars opposite Philippe Noiret as Rose, the police chief’s feisty mistress and a spark of hope in what is otherwise an appropriately grim—if darkly funny—neo-noir. Shot on location in Senegal and nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, Coup de Torchon is not only a reckoning with France’s colonial legacy but an examination of the universal nature of evil.