MANDIBLES (aka MANDIBULES, 2020)
Directed & written by Quentin Dupieux.
Starring Grégoire Ludig, David Marsais, Adèle Exarchopoulos, India Hair, Roméo Elvis, Coralie Russier, Bruno Lochet.
Find out more about this film here!
When a pair of bumbling morons agree to transport a package from one shady businessman to another, they steal a car to do so and happen to find a schnauzer sized fly in the trunk. This distracts them enough to hatch a new plan; train the fly to follow their orders and then become rich.
Level headed and literal minded thinkers, take off. We are about to enter the absurd world of Quentin Dupieux. While it is not as off the reservation as RUBBER or staged as his last film KEEP AN EYE OUT, Dupieux’s MANDIBLES is a wonderfully funny and occasionally poignant little story about opportunity and happenstance. The storyline doesn’t seem to move towards an intended goal. Instead, the story kind of meanders like a drunk across the French countryside, encountering different people and getting in and out of weird situations. One might want to rack your brain attempting to bring meaning to this giant fly and these two buffoons trying to profit from it, but that might distract you from simply enjoying the subtle and broad comedy going on. I do feel there is some method behind Dupieux’s madness in MANDIBLES. It is about dreaming big and living life by the seat of your pants—taking opportunities as they fall in front of you, but goes about it in an absolutely off-kilter way using all kinds of dream-logic.
Actors Grégoire Ludig (who also starred in Dupieux’s KEEP AN EYE OUT) and David Marsais play Manu and Jean-Gab. Like the comedy duos of old like Laurel & Hardy and Mattin & Lewis to more modern comedic pairings like Beavis & Butthead and Bill & Ted, Ludig and Marsais play off of each other marvelously. The way they rationalize every odd twist and turn they encounter is fun to see. While they seem to understand very little in life, they do know how to roll with the punches and their moronic resilience is refreshing to see. These two guys are undeniably likable and you can’t help but root for them to succeed despite how stupid their plan is.
The fly itself is quite a marvel. Part practical effects and part CG, it really does look fantastic and real in the scene. The jittery and staccato movements make it look real, but subtle gestures give it a sense that maybe, just maybe, it understands and might even have feelings for this bumbling duo. While most of the time it’s wrapped up and being carried around by our heroes, either by CG or practical, this fly looks like it may very well exist.
Another standout worth mentioning is the fantastic comic performance by actress Adèle Exarchopoulos. Her’s is a smaller role as she plays a woman who suffered from an accident in her youth and now is slightly delayed and is unable to control the volume of her voice. While it might be seen as insensitive by some, she brings a vibrancy and other-worldly charm to her performance that deserves recognition.
MANIDBLES is goofy and bawdy fun. It ends in the only way it possibly could and I left the film with a gigantic smile on my face. If a movie about two buffoons and a giant fly causes even the slightest smile on your face, give MANDIBLES a shot. It’s absurdist cinema at its best.