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Bertrand Tavernier certainly does not belong to the first echelon of the most famous and best French directors, but this filmmaker, born in 1941 and who died in 2021, was the favorite type of many of those famous faces. Tavernier was remembered not only as an extremely productive filmmaker, but also as an incredible erudite and film connoisseur, almost the French version of Martin Scorsese. Already as a 13-year-old, he decided that he would work in film, and before his 20th birthday he became an assistant to Jean-Pierre Melville, before switching to publishing, and in the early seventies he started directing independently.

And he does not fit in at all with the style and aesthetics of the slightly older team that started the French new wave, but his role models were classic masters like John Ford and Jean Renoir, and what John Wayne was to Ford, Philippe Noiret will become to Tavernier. This great French actor, who is perhaps best remembered for his role as an old projectionist in Tornatore’s wonderful “Nuevo cinema paradiso”, probably starred in all of Tavernier’s films, including this black crime comedy, which takes place somewhere in West Africa at the very end of the thirties, on the eve of the start of World War II.

Of course, it is still a French colony, and Lucien Cordier (Tavernier) is the only policeman in a town where the whites are the minority and have everything under control, and the local blacks are still almost at the level of the lower class. Cordier lost his illusions about the importance of the job a long time ago, and he also lost his authority because he became the main laughing stock in the town. Even his wife Huguette (Stephane Audran) brought a lover into their house and openly lives with him. Cordier is far from being a flower in this matter because he is also in a secret relationship with young Rose (Isabelle Huppert) whose husband is a bully, but this lazy policeman does not react to that either.

He is especially harassed by a pair of pimps whose main interest is living on the restless Cordier, but all that will soon change. After he kills them and realizes that nothing is happening, Cordier will finally start behaving the way he wants and soon new dead people will start appearing in the place. And it earned a “Coup de torchon” and an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and it was a bizarre, eccentric, black comedy that was equally entertaining and visually and stylistically elegant. Although the film met with mixed reviews, it did very well at the French box office and was nominated for ten French national film awards, Cesar.