Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Movie Review: Wrong

Directed by: Quentin Dupieux.
Written by: Quentin Dupieux.
Starring: Jack Plotnick (Dolph Springer), Eric Judor (Victor), Alexis Dziena (Emma), Steve Little (Detective Ronnie), William Fichtner (Master Chang), Regan Burns (Mike), Mark Burnham (Cop), Arden Myrin (Boss Gabrielle).

Who hasn’t experienced a few days like Dolph Springer has in Wrong? You wake up at 7:60 to discover your dog has gone missing, have a cryptic conversation with the neighbor you always see jogging, who denies that he jogs, call the new pizza delivery place, not to order a pizza, but to question why their logo is a bunny riding a motorcycle (because if the bunny represents speed, why does he need a motorcycle), find the palm tree in the backyard has turned into a pine tree – much to the chagrin of your gardener, who looks Mexican, but speaks with a French accent, go into the office, where is rains on you all day, even though you were fired two months ago, and then get contacted by a mysterious stranger who has written a book about telepathically connecting with dogs who admits, yes, he did kidnap your dog – completely at random – because that is what he does, kidnaps people’s dogs so they realize how much they love them, and then return them, only this time, something went wrong, there was a car accident – but he is sure the dog is okay, but no, he has no idea where he is. Typical, every day, mundane stuff, right?

This is the setup for Quentin Dupieux’s ever strange Wrong – his follow-up to Rubber (unseen by me) which was a horror film about a tire with consciousness, that kills things (how I missed a movie about a killer tire, I have no idea). Things will get stranger from Dolph throughout the movie – the woman who answered the phone at the pizza place (Alexis Dziena) has big plans for them, even if she cannot tell him apart from his gardener, and there will be a detective who can analyze the memories of dog poop. And on and on.

This type of prolonged weirdness is difficult to pull off. It seems easy, because it seems like it’s just a random string of seemingly meaningless and unrelated events, but eventually everything has to tie together, right? That is where Dupieux cannot quite bring the film off. After everything in the film, you do expect some sort of resolution that makes at least a semblance of sense – and Dupieux really isn’t able to provide that.

Yet, there is much to admire along the way. The one consistent thing in the movie is Jack Plotnick’s performance as Dolph – who starts out the movie completely and totally confused, and just gets more confused as the film progresses. He is our through line, and you have to give credit to Plotnick – he succeeds far better than he probably should at making Dolph a consistent character. I also appreciated Dziena’s opened face innocent performance as Emma, the pizza girl, who takes everything she sees at face value and simply smiles all the way through. William Fichtner is quite funny as Master Chang, the self-stylized dog guru as well. And you have to give Dupieux credit – he really is able to sustain the weirdness of the movie much longer than most movies of this ilk that wear out their welcome fairly fast after a promising start.

Wrong doesn’t really work in any traditional sense. It isn’t trying to. Most audiences will be confused or simply resist the weirdness – I suspect a lot of people will simply hate Wrong, and turn it off well before the movie ends. But this is also the type of film that will almost definitely gain a devoted cult following. I’m somewhere in between those two extremes – I didn’t hate Wrong – I found some of it flat out hilarious – but I didn’t really love it either. I suspect though that most will be on one extreme or the other. And I suspect that if you’ve made it this far in the review, that you already know what extreme you’ll be in.

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