MY NEW PARTNER scored a game-winning goal on French home turf back in1984. Known there as Les Ripoux, it’s a comedy about cops copping free francs and keeping a piece of the peace. Written & directed by Claude Zidi, the amiable amble inside the well-greased undercarriage of Paris offers a seasoned Gallic shrug on honestly managing dishonesty, is refreshingly adult about the seduction of corruption, and is practical in weighing the laws and limits of leverage. Since we like the plainclothes peccants here, the fact that they bend rules like bungee cords doesn’t unduly faze us.
Jaded about the justice system, judicious about how he applies it, veteran policeman ‘René’ (Philippe Noiret) has his own code of crime control, which includes ample perks from the ‘protected’. After his old partner takes the fall for a ripoff that fails, René gets a new one, a straight-laced idealist fresh from the Academy. ‘Francois’ (Thierry Lhermitte) has a lot to learn, both from René and from ‘Natasha’ (Grace de Capitani), a charming prostitute René sets him up with, aided by his girlfriend, retired hooker ‘Simone’ (Regine). Education requires patience, revelation its reward.
Like a streetwise officer reads faces instead of the riot act, this disarming dip into quasi-legal larceny earns most of its laughs through characterization rather than by frenetic farcing. The Paris patrolled by these genial gendarme grifters isn’t the tourists Champs-Elysees, Eiffel Tower and Louvres, but the one traveled by purse snatchers, pimps and pushers. Keeping the lowlifes in line means going with the flow. René just has to educate and train Francois.
107 minutes, followed in 1990 by My New Partner II/My New Partner At The Races (not arriving in the States until ’97), and finally in 2003 by Ripoux 3. Both sequels were written & directed by Zidi, each featured Noiret and Lhermitte. The ladies sat out the last one.