One of last year’s most strangely entertaining films was Quentin Dupieux’s Deerskin about a man’s bloody obsession with a deerskin jacket. Dupieux is back this year with another black comedy, this time a police procedural with a decidedly absurdist twist. There’s a murder and a witness/suspect who’s being interrogated, and a death in the room that the witness/suspect covers up while the police inspector is out of the room, and some weird time manipulations in the flashbacks of his testimony. And it’s all played pretty deadpan. And it’s strangely entertaining in a trés French sort of way.
You know from the opening scene that this is going to be an odd film. A man in a speedo is conducting an orchestra out in a field, when suddenly police appear and chase him down and arrest him. And that’s all we see of him. The action moves to the interrogation. The witness/suspect Fugain (Grégoire Ludig) found a dead body outside his apartment, but Chief Inspector Buron (Benoît Poelvoorde), a stickler for details, thinks there’s more to it and takes him through his whole night leading up to the discovery of the body. Stepping away for just a moment, he asks Philippe (Marc Fraize), an underling with one eye, to keep an eye out with the suspect. But when Philippe dies in a totally slapstick freak accident, Fugian fears he’ll be blamed and stuffs the body in a cabinet. And when the interrogation continues he’s preoccupied with that cabinet just behind the Inspector as he furnishes all the details of the previous night, which make him look more and more guilty.
The film is very language driven. Dupieux explains, “We would change the film by changing a comma or adding three lines … [The film] was made by rewriting constantly. Adding or removing three words would change the scene. I felt like having characters that were more embodied, human, real, with personality traits. I think I just started a new phase of my cinema. I see it materializing.”
So do all the strange elements and dialogue choices add up to a great story? Not really, but you also can’t look away. The two lead actors are extremely good. They’re both well known comedians and play well off one another. And at just 73 minutes in length and being unlike any other comedy you’re likely to see, it’s definitely worth a watch. And I look forward to whatever oddness pops in to Dupieux’s head next.
Now showing in real and virtual cinemas nationwide.
Even the trailer is absurd.