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April 30, 2015

Tip Top

tip top poster.jpg

Serge Bozon - 2013
Kino Lorber BD Region A

The premise of Tip Top had some potential: two women from Internal Affairs go from Paris to the small suburban town of Villaneuve to investigate the murder of an Algerian police informant. One of the investigators is portrayed by Isabelle Huppert, one of the best contemporary actresses around.

And no mistake, Huppert doesn't hold back here. She's as fearless as they come, but I think only the hardest of hard core admirers should bother with this film. This is a French language film made primarily for a French audience. The investigation takes place simultaneously as riots are taking place in Algeria. While I have seen and enjoyed other films concerning French-Arab characters, this one might be a bit too specific in its references.

There is also the quirks of the characters, Esther, played by Hubbert and her junior partner, Sally, played by Sandrine Kimberlain. Sally has been demoted to Internal Affairs due to her propensity for voyeurism. Esther's passion for rough sex with her husband, involving a lot of hitting, biting and bruising between the two, may raise a few eyebrow, especially when there is a shot of Esther tucking a mason's hammer under the pillow for future use. As the song goes, love is a hurting thing. For myself, there was an overload of quirkiness.

And yet, there is something to be admired when Huppert is seen in the last third of the film with the bridge of her nose an open wound, blood carefully dripping straight down to the tip, with her sticking out her tongue to lick some of the blood. Whatever one might think about Esther and her relationship with her husband, there is no denying that Huppert totally embraces her role.

Serge Bozon has transposed Bill James' novel of the same title, from Britain to France. I haven't read the novel, but I suspect from the description that while there is a similar framework involving an investigation of possible corruption within the small town police force, that Bozon has jettisoned most of the mystery in favor of attempting to say something about the relationship between France and Algeria, as well as the tangled relationships between people, privately and publicly. A French audience will find more significance that the husbands of Esther and Sally are of Arab decent. And even though the mystery is solved, it seems incidental to Esther's maneuvers between the police force, the Algerian community, and her relationship with Sally.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at April 30, 2015 06:30 AM