Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:43 pm 
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More life in the northeast from Bruno Dumont

I call your attention to what I wrote about the first 2014 Bruno Dumont miniseries, Lil (or "P'tit") Quinquin (the spelling of his name has been changed to "Coincoin"). Many of the main characters return here, notably the local representatives of the Gendarmerie, Lt. Carpentier (Philippe Jore) and his boss, Cpt. Van der Weyden (Bernard Pruvost), with their peculiarities, particularly Provost's Tourette--like twitches and Jore's far-apart front teeth, and of course Alane Delhaye, who now must be sixteen or so, still with the smashed nose and twisted mouth and hearing aid and basilisk glare, but he's less feisty, calmer, and doesn't throw firecrackers at old people anymore. He still has a high-pitched boyish voice. His girlfriend from before, Eve Terrier (Lucy Caron) now has a mannish girlfriend, Corinne (Priscilla Benoist) who operates a big agricultural machine that opens up like a giant insect. Coincoin gets involved with a new girl called Jenny (Alexia Depret), but she toys with him. It's complicated with girls, he says. He still has a moment or two with Eve, who may long for her innocent time with Li'l Quinquin. This series is just as annoying and repetitious, as well done, and as curiously endearing as the first one.

Now other things are going on: principally, muck falling from the heavens, constituting a kind of alien invasion; a unit of a right-wing party that Coincoin and his sidekick Fatso (L'gros, Julien Bodard) do illicit publicity for in town; and, hovering around the outskirts, African refugees. The extraterrestrial effluvia is thick and oily. Cpt. Van der Weyden calls in forensics to analyze it, and they find it's not only alien but alive. It has a tendency to fall down on Van der Weyden's and Carpentier's and some other people's heads at inopportune moments. And then sometimes it sends a flash of light out over people and knocks them down, whereupon they swell up and give birth to a clone of themselves. At first it just seems some of the locals have spawned identical twins. Van der Weyden insists on calling them "clowns," which is not far from the mark. The aliens are invading by clones, and later seem to be getting into the cemetery to bring out the dead. First to return as a zombie is the girl singer of the previous series, who has died in a fire.

But the alien invasion is mainly an opportunity for comedy. First there is the muck falling on people, which has the slapstick effect of a mudpie in the face. The clone/clown hilarity peaks when Van der Weyden has been doubled, and Carpentier doesn't know which identical twin is his real boss. An occasion for a nice horror movie effect comes when the inhabitants of the local trailer park all come out and stand around staring, turned into static zombies dressed in bright colored clothes.

Much fun is had with vehicles. I have mentioned the giant grasping agricultural vehicle operated by Corinne, Eve's girlfriend. L'gros has a motorcycle, and Coincoin has a hot little open car. They have fun evading the Gendarmerie, which in principle they must because they're driving without a license. But the cops are no great exemplars of highway safety or the rules of the road. Carpentier has his way of making his Citroën police vehicle tilt and run on the wheels of only one side, and then drop back down on four wheels - when it doesn't flip over. Dumont seems never to tire of these very dangerous stunts. Van der Weyden utters more than once the French equivalent of "enough already!" and we may be ready to say so with him.

All this is awesome because it's so original, so sui generis, and so skillfully done. Dumont's way with non-actors remains matchless. He can shoot Van der Weyden and Carpentier twitching and nodding at each other many beats longer than normal and it still has a surreal magic, and seems perfectly planned out even if it isn't.

What about the refugees and the right wing? These are important elements that are only touched on, but seem alive, a real part of the real region of France that Dumont's films have always focused on. If they were taken more seriously, this would be a different kind of film. It's surreal comedy about real people and places. At the US Premiere, there was no Q&A, but there was much laughter throughout the three hours-plus run-time, and warm spontaneous applause at the end.

Coincoin and the Extra-Humans/Coin Coin et les Z'Inhumains, 200 mins., is a sequel to Dumont's earlier L'il Quinquin mini-series, but there is a 52-minute feature version that got an AlloCiné press rating of 2.9 but its user rating is 3.5. Screened for this review as part of the UniFrance-Film Society of Lincoln Center Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, Mar. 2019.

Rendez-Vous showtime:
Sunday, March 3, 1:00pm
U.S. Premiere

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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