"Mandibles" - kooky comedy from France

By Moira Jean Sullivan

Quentin Dupieux’s Mandibiles (fr. Mandibules) premiered out of competition last year at the Venice Film Festival. It has taken nearly a year for Mandibles to come out in the US and it opens July 23 in San Francisco.

The premise of the film is a large fly that is discovered in the trunk of an abandoned car that is being hotwired to deliver a suitcase for a client named Michel Michel (Philippe Dusseau).

The fly is domesticated , almost like a pet dog or cat but very freaky and quite ugly, drab grey with a huge spikey head. Two characters, Manu and Jean Gab played by Grégoire Ludig and David Marsais bungle their way throughout the film in a series of absurd situations. Manu wants to train the fly to make money which in itself is super bizarre. They kidnap a man in his motor home and take over the kitchen. Jean Gab decides to cook and asks if Manu is allergic to anything. It is oil and the frying pan goes up in flames, the motor home catches on fire and is destroyed.

They next stay at a large house but are not allowed to have any dogs. Well, they don’t have one but Jean Gab is asked by Manu to find one as a decoy to keep the large fly in their room secret. They know their room will be searched for a dog, which they admit they have kept against the house rules but not a domesticated fly. Jean Gab finds a small dog but leaves him alone with the fly. Big mistake, we discover while watching the multiple views a fly has of the little creature with his eyes. One of the residents at the house is Agnès played by Adèle Exarchopolous. She has a speech disability that makes her speak in a very large voice. She is quite firm when confronting Manu and Jean Arb about the dog in the room.

The film is a public success in France which perhaps has more to do with the popularity of Grégoire Ludig and David Marsais. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels may seem hilarious to American audiences in Dumb and Dumber but perhaps not to the French. Palme d’Or recipient Adèle Exarchopolous is also a big draw to the film but not exactly funny when speaking her lines loudly, nor some of the antics that Manu and Jean Arb get involved in. But Mandibles is meaningless and pointless fun and a cultural experience.

© 2021 - Moira Jean Sullivan - Air Date: 07/21/2021
Movie Magazine International