Wrong (Madman)

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Quentin Dupieux’s second English language feature is a strange beast. In Wrong, Dolph Springer wakes one day to find his beloved dog Paul missing, kidnapped by the bizarre Master Chang who is attempting to promote a new human/canine bonding technique through a series of telepathic experiments. OK, so there is the plot in a nutshell. It isn’ that Wrong is hard to follow, nor is it that it is non-linear or abstract, the strangeness comes from the small oddities in the world in which the film exists being accepted as normal. Wrong is never as weird as David Lynch, you don’t need to let go of comprehension in order to get to the next scene, and it isn’t dark. Wrong exists in a happily naive world which has it’s own defining logic. Events get from A to B without trouble, but through the odd logic of Dupieux who wrote, directed shot and edited this film.

This auteristic approach allows Dupieux the freedom to search through the narrative to find the little odd pieces that give this film it’s charm. Shot in a consistent super short focal length, Dupieux relies on natural lighting and small camera rigs to be able to move around the action in order to get much more coverage than would be normal for a film of this scale. Having shot the whole work in just over three weeks, Dupieux then locked himself up in the edit room, emerging with a fully fledged film. Oh, he also scored it, as the French electro producer Mr Oizo, it seems that Dupieux is happy when he is busy.

The strength in Dupieux’ singular approach is that he manages to create and sustain his nuanced vision. The screenwriting is tight, and small absurdities allow the plot to breathe without getting bogged down. That Springer goes to work each day despite being made redundant is outshined by the strange fact that in this office it rains constantly indoors. This is never addressed, nor is it ever considered strange at all. It just is. Dupieux seems to ask you to accept this logic as you enter the film. It seems somewhat unfair to compare the film to the works of David Lynch, although Lynch is the master of the dream-like state of reality in which Wrong references. As mentioned it isn’t as weird as Lynch, it is more like Michel Gondry in a quirky self referential moment, though perhaps not as grand, but that could have a lot to do with limitations of budget.

Since completing Wrong, Dupieux has finished and released Wrong Cops, and is in postproduction of his next film Réalité, writing, directing, shooting and editing all of them, as well as producing the music. While I do highly recommend Wrong as an unusual comedy, I would like to see Dupieux go further into surreality, absurdity and irreverence. He has definitely moved into the ranks of “director to watch’ for me, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this unique mind.

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  • Great follow-up to Rubber. Dupieux’s films and music both have a sophistication that is deliberately belied by their whimsy and blunt humor. Certainly they appeal to a limited niche audience but that audience loves him!