Directed by Quentin Dupieux
Runtime 94min - Not Rated
4 Stars (out of 4)
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This review contains spoilers. Why? No reason.
What I like about "Wrong" is not the ridiculous events happening around the characters, but the passive nature of their reactions. Dolph Springer has a palm tree in his back yard. One day it's no longer a palm tree, but a pine tree. Instead of expressing wonder at this impossible transmutation he simply asks his gardener to remove it and put in a palm tree. He also works in an office where it's constantly raining, or maybe the sprinklers are perpetually activated. He and his coworkers just go about their business, using their laptops and phones while filling out soggy paperwork. He gets called into his manager's office where things are nice and dry. She asks him to use a towel before sitting down marking the only spoken reference to the situation throughout the entire film.
Quentin Dupieux's foray into weirdness (english-speaking weirdness anyway) began in 2010 with the cult hit "Rubber". It followed the adventures of a sentient tire with telekinetic abilities and an insatiable appetite for violence. At the beginning of that film a police officer parks out of a car trunk and delivers a monologue on the nature of cinematic reasoning:
In the Steven Spielberg movie E.T., why is the alien brown? No reason. In Love Story, why do the two characters fall madly in love with each other? No reason. In Oliver Stone's JFK, why is the President suddenly assassinated by some stranger? No reason. In the excellent Chain Saw Massacre by Tobe Hooper, why don't we ever see the characters go to the bathroom or wash their hands like people do in real life? Absolutely no reason. Worse, in The Pianist by Polanski, how come this guy has to hide and live like a bum when he plays the piano so well? Once again the answer is, no reason. I could go on for hours with more examples. The list is endless. You probably never gave it a thought, but all great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason. And you know why? Because life itself is filled with no reason. Why can't we see the air all around us? No reason. Why are we always thinking? No reason. Why do some people love sausages and other people hate sausages? No fucking reason.With this in mind, "Wrong" becomes a sequel of sorts. Certainly sentient tires, morphing pine trees, and continuously drenched offices exist in the same realm, right?
Though the techniques are similar, the films are very different in tone. "Rubber" was essentially a sci-fi horror whereas "Wrong" is a love story. That is, a love story between man and dog. I didn't mean that to sound bestial, it's a platonic love.
When the film begins Dolph wakes up and calls for his dog Paul. The dog is nowhere to be found. Dolph walks outside and asks his neighbor if he's seen the dog on his morning jog. The neighbor angrily denies having ever jogged and gets in his car and drives forever. Literally forever. He ends up trying to cross a desert which may or not be infinite in nature. Meanwhile, Dolph begins a search for his furry friend that sees him cross paths with a powerful psychic who runs a pet-napping company. Not for financial gain, he believes that people take their pets for granted and by kidnapping them he can make the owner's realize just how much the pet means to them. After he feels the pet owner has mourned enough he returns the animal unharmed. That's what was supposed to happen to Dolph's dog, but the doggie-napping van got in an accident and Paul went missing for real.
It's really hard to explain the feel of this sort of movie without spoiling too much. Just know that the laws of reality don't apply whatsoever.
Dupieux shows ample technical skill as a director. Both "Rubber" and "Wrong" look marvelous. Even though the concepts are so bizarrely abstract, the actors always seem to understand the director's vision. I can only hope that Dupieux will do some films outside of his no reason philosophy. At this point he's basically created and mastered a genre of his own, but I'm not so sure you can take the idea much further. It's good for any artist to push themselves and step outside their comfort zone. And make no mistake, Quentin Dupieux is an artist.
"Wrong" is definitely a movie that is designed to bring laughs, but its real value lies under its surface. Look past the shenanigans and you'll find something heartwarming. It's also a piece that forces you to think. All of that surreality must have some greater meaning. Or maybe it doesn't. Maybe's it's just a bunch of pointless tomfoolery. Either way, you'll want to figure it out for yourself.