|Ah, the bucolic lives of rural inbreds.|
Dir. Bruno Dumont
Starring: Alane Delhaye, Lucy Caron, Bernard Pruvost, Philippe Jore
Review By Greg Klymkiw
I pretty much can't stand Bruno Dumont. His oh-so ironic plunges into northern French rural culture have always been rendered with a heavy enough hand that I've found it almost impossible to respond on any level but contempt. I especially hated his inexplicably acclaimed L'Humanite which involved an investigation of an especially brutal act of violence punctuated by scenes of cops actually taking weekends off to go to the seaside, eat cheese and sip wine. The non-thriller exploration of character and culture grew tiresome and just made me long for some of the more straight-up Gallic policiers I'd come to love over the years.
Though L'il Quinquin also involves an investigation into a series of serial killings similar in setting to the aforementioned, I was shocked to find myself sufficiently intrigued to sit all the way through this film's mammoth length of 200 minutes. Focusing upon a group of kids living in a seaside resort, the film is an all-out comedy and as such, works moderately well.
Focusing upon the pug-ugly title character and his friendship with a pretty little girl, one gets a sense of how mundane their lives are in the tiny one-horse village they live in and their antics are not without amusement value. Dumont's social observations seem less heavy-handed than usual and within the commitment to laughs, I daresay he's crafted a pretty darn successful outing this time round.
The boy and girl, in addition to a few local kids, happen upon the strange sight of a murder scene being investigated by the local police chief (who makes Inspector Clouseau look like a Rhodes Scholar) and his even stupider partner. The murders are curious. The victims have been hacked up and their body parts appear to be shoved deep into the assholes of cows lying dead in a variety of unlikely locales. (I have to admit I appreciated blood, viscera and fingers spilling out of a cow's ass.) Quinquin, strictly through his boredom and powers of observation proves to be an unwitting partner in the investigation (though the chief inspector has taken an intense dislike to the little rascal).
The movie is often knee-slappingly hilarious and its stately pace takes on a kind of clever deadpan that allows for it to never inspire looking at your watch to see when you can safely vacate the cinema. The performances of the kids are delightfully natural and the adults are all suitably bumbling or ignorant. Though this all could have proven intolerable, it's imbued with something resembling heart. This was probably a stretch for Dumont, but he pulls it off. The movie is sufficiently engaging that I'm actually looking forward to his next film. When it comes to directors I have no use for, that's quite an accomplishment.
L'il Quinquin is distributed by Kino Lorber and is playing in the Contemporary World Cinema series at TIFF 2014. For tix, times, dates and venues, visit the TIFF website by clicking HERE.
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