Quentin Dupieux is back! After gracing us with the first ever horror film featuring a tire in the main lead (Rubber), Dupieux returns for another round of highly absurd and deadpan humor. Dupieux drops the horror frame though, going for a more common comedy setup. Luckily that doesn't mean he compromises on the actual laughs, as Wrong is probably one of the weirdest, seemingly random and funniest comedies of the year.
Rubber was somewhat of a surprise hit. Even if it wasn't Dupieux's first film, it is the one that got him international recognition as a director (where before he was better known under his Mr Oizo moniker). The concept of that film alone was enough to guarantee him a cult hit, which kind of eclipsed the actual qualities of Dupieux as a director. Wrong doesn't leave much room for doubt though, the man has talent and hopefully he'll stick with directing the odd film once in a while.
Wrong is a pretty good description of what this film has to offer. It is filled to the brim with odd conversations, unreasonable situations, plain weird side gags and unapologetic impossibilities. Wrong seems to be Dupieux's code word and main lead for whatever happens in this film, inciting more "what the fuck" moments than any other film in recent memory. The result is definitely not for everyone (I think it reminded me a little of Little Fish, Strange Pond, maybe even Soderbergh's Schizoplolis), but fans the absurd can rejoice.
The film tells the story of Dolph, a plain looking guy living a plain life. Until one day he wakes up and his dog just isn't there. This sudden imbalance is a pretty big shock for Dolph, but it's just the beginning of a series of increasingly absurd events surrounding the disappearance of Dolph's dog. Going into too much detail would spoil the fun, but when palm trees are suddenly being replaced with pines you know something is definitely off.
Dupieux is clearly interested in the visual side of film making, but a small budget and a stronger focus on the comedy seem to prevent him from going too wild. There is some interesting camera work here, some good ideas for sure, but overall the film does look a little too bland. It's nothing serious because the comedy works so well and the film definitely has its visual moments, but there's obviously room for improvement.
Fitting in a decent soundtrack is clearly a lot easier for Dupieux. His background as a musician helps a lot and even though the music isn't as in your face as his Mr Oizo work, there are a couple of scenes where the soundtrack takes center stage, actively defining the film's atmosphere. The soundtrack also helps to give the film a darker, more mysterious edge compared to other comedies out there. All in all, Dupieux does a pretty good job in the audio department.
The acting too is solid, though at times it can be a little difficult to judge. Because of the odd and sometimes stilted dialogues it's not always easy to weigh the talent of some of the actors, but when watching William Fichtner play Master Chang it becomes pretty clear that Dupieux fully intended the pleasantly awkward effect. Jack Plotnick shines as Dolph, Eric Judor has probably the funniest role of the bunch and Fichtner is amazing as the mysterious dog master.
Even though some scenes and characters felt as if they were entirely random (like the painter), most ideas seem to have a broader connection to other parts of the story. That doesn't mean they make sense necessarily, but the connection is at least obvious which makes the whole a little easier to accept. More importantly though, most jokes seem to work well, ranging from genuine smirks and surprised grins to some veritable laugh out loud moments.
With Wrong Dupieux delivers a refreshing slice of absurd comedy that few other directors out there are able to match. Rubber clearly wasn't an accident and Dupieux seems to be improving his skills as a director. If you're open to this style of comedy then Wrong is a pretty safe bet, if you're looking for coherence and more traditional styles of comedy I think it's best to steer clear of this one. I enjoyed this film thoroughly though, I hope Dupieux finds the money to keep making these little low-budget pearls.