Film

Tip Top Is the French Crime/Sex Police Dramedy You Didn’t Know You Wanted

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Serge Bozon’s smart, surprising, marvelously realized French crime-and-sex police drama/comedy distinguishes itself with trenchant plotting, inspired framing, and performances that honor true human feeling even as they lunge into the screwball.

The leads, both cops investigating murder and possible police corruption, are flawed and fascinating women played with sharp-elbowed wit by Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Kiberlain. The case is complex and satisfying, involving a police snitch in a small town’s Armenian community, and Bozon is biting — and a bit heartsick — on the topic of the cops’ relationship with local Muslims.

But what stings and pleases most, here, is the odd-couple lead: brisk, brusque Huppert, commanding and pitiless, not caring how accidentally rude she is to her new partner (Kiberlain), a shy, sly Peeping Tom very excited to go undercover as a very available woman.

A barbed friendship develops, especially when the two discover each other’s taste for kink: Huppert’s alpha likes getting roughed up in the sack, Kiberlain’s beta is eager to try it — and, in the meantime, she ogles the ludicrously hunky chap who washes dishes shirtless in a kitchen window across from her hotel room, the vision a hilarious gender-flip on those scenes of Susan Sarandon citrusing herself in Atlantic City. Bozon’s first feature in seven years showcases a once-promising director now in full flourish, crafting singular work.