Fifth about The Seventh

Clean Slate (Coup de Torchon)

Clean Slate: Bertrand Tavernier, in this adaptation of a Jim Thompson hardboiled novel, transposes the location to French colonial Africa. That decision allows the film to reach even deeper as it looks into the dark side of the human soul, showing the dehumanization of the locals by the White elite. Despite the light touch it’s treated, the story and the main characters are a grim bunch, hard to connect with. Philippe Noiret, in any case, plays the protagonist exceptionally well: apparently an almost simple and easy-going man, but with an unpredictable and surprising hard core. Isabelle Huppert is also fine as his young and enticing lover, as is Stéphane Audran as his shrew of a wife. Cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn moves the camera beautifully, but some scenes feel a bit too bright. Composer Philippe Sarde’s work is interesting, as some themes, however rich and beautiful they may be, feel out of place for the location but are spot-on for the source material.

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