Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Les Ripoux

1984, France, directed by Claude Zidi

A huge hit in its native country, Les Ripoux is still pretty entertaining as a slice of seamy Parisian life, with an ebullient central performance from Philippe Noiret, but it seems terribly dated in terms of filmmaking technique. While I'm pre-disposed to like Thierry Lhermitte for his exuberant earlier work as a member of the Splendid café-théâtre troupe, he's almost entirely in Noiret's shadow here and there's barely an attempt to render credible the narrative arc that sees his strait-laced young cop make the transition to a rather more flexible view of the law. His character is also saddled with an unconvincing romance plot that regularly prompts director Claude Zidi to crank up the muzak and call for the soft-focus lenses, all of which only underlines how much better the film is when Noiret is front-and-centre. There are pleasures, though, from several of the character actors, especially those playing the film's petty criminals--among them Ticky Holgado and Michel Crémadès, both of whom subsequently incarnated numerous memorable oddballs.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States