Quentin Dupieux is one weird guy. Anyone who’s witness to Rubber or Wrong Cops can attest to this fact. When some describes a director “tossing out all rules of reason or logic when it comes to filmmaking, they’re probably describing Dupieux. While never pushing the envelope in terms of taste or decency, he’s content making films that entrain himself, even if they alienate others. His latest, Keep An Eye Out might never approach the extreme levels of previous works, but it is still a wildly fun time.
You’re aware it’s a Dupieux film you’re watching, right from the start. A middle aged man in a red speedo conducts an orchestra, in the middle of a glen, before being chased off by some cops. It serves no purpose in the proceedings, but in an of itself, it’s the perfect odd beat to kick things off on. While also hinting at the insanity to come. Those hoping for a straight forward film, or one with a tidy resolution, will be left wanting. Everyone else is in for one of the year’s most breezy surprises.
In an interrogation room, somewhere in France, Luis Fungain (Grégoire Ludig) awaits police questioning. As he found a dead body outside his flat, with no one else around at all, he’s suspect number one. His nosy neighbor also happened to witness Fungain leave his flat 7 times that evening. You’d think the police would be all over him, to get a confession. That would be all too simple. Rather the attending officer, Buron (Benoît Poelvoorde) is busy with the frivolities in picking a dinner date with friends and his assistant, the one-eyed and dim-witted Phillippe (Marc Fraize) is “scanning” the many ways Fungain could kill him with everyday objects. Just as Buron steps out for a few moments, leaving his cohort alone, everything begins to spiral out of control. Literally.
Keep An Eye Out is comedy of errors, where the absurdity steadily increases at a steady pace. First it starts small, merely on the fringe. Until finally it reaches a point where it’s almost deafening. That’s part of it’s delight. The actual story is focused and small, allowing for the fringe to become the focus. Dupieux enjoys the little world and the wild characters that inhabit it, even though this very well may be his most mainstream work to date. To some that’s probably reassuring, to other’s a disappointment. Yet it’s still a frightfully unique vision. The kind only a director like this would dare attempt.
Though the film is mostly centered on Buron’s line of questioning, the scope expands (and then contracts) in ways wholly unexpected. To describe the insanity Keep Your Eye Out dabbles in, would be to spoil it’s many surprises. Suffice to say, nothing is simple here. Even if it first appears that way. Inane conversations give way to hysterical outbursts. Flashbacks take on a life of their own, as the present in the past keep intersecting. It keeps doubling back on itself and darting off in ways that shouldn’t seem logical or possible. For every weird move it makes, it feels as if Depiuez is placing a hand on the audience’s shoulder, delighted by his handy work. He has every right to feel that way. Tone is such an important factor in a film like this and Depiuex proves one again to be a master tactician.
If the whole film were nothing but a series of bizarre occurrences, it would surely buckle under the weight. Thankfully the side details are what keep everything so engaging. Fashion seems pulled out of a 70’s police program. Buron uses a typewriter for filling out his reports. Moments later a gameboy is present and a few people refer to the internet. Everything feels off, but that’s largely a stylistic choice. Just another nonsensical flourish, in a film brimming with them. In that regard, the set design too is immensely striking, belonging more to a modern art museum, than a police station.
In a way that’s perfect. As much as Keep An Eye Out presents itself as a feature, it’s also an experimental piece. With credits it just breaks the hour mark. That isn’t a slight against it. In fact, there’s enough ideas and creativity on display here, to fill a several other films. It’s just that to view Duepiex’s work here through simply a normal lens, is to do it a disservice. What he’s created here is contained madcap delirium. It may be short and feel like a minor effort, but the laughs and entertainment it conjures up are anything but. Don’t worry about it all making sense, just ride the preposterously funny wave. There’s few quick delights as fun as this one.