'Keep An Eye Out' is a curiosity that requires little time investment and has the potential to create new Quentin Dupieux fans.
- 🌀Words don't adequately capture how surreal this film is.
- 🌀Harsh satire of police investigation tactics.
- 🌀Doesn't belabor its main joke for too long.
- 🌀The comedy is very specific.
- 🌀The ending may lose you.
If you’re familiar with the films Rubber and Deerskin, then you are already well acquainted with the sort of antics pursued by French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux. He makes films premised upon singular, idiosyncratic, absurdist jokes, then proceeds to hammer that joke home from every conceivable angle until he’s wrung it dry and leaves you wondering what the hell you just watched. Usually his fascination lies in the absurdity of murder, but instead of exploring the mind of a killer tire or a murderer in service to the world's most perfect jacket, Keep An Eye Out at first seems much more conventional. But make no mistake: this is Dupieux through and through.
Louis Fugain (Grégoire Ludig) has been brought to the police station for questioning by the detective Buron (Benoît Poelvoorde) after discovering a dead body outside his apartment complex. Because Fugain checked the body for ID before calling for an ambulance, Buron suspects Fugain is the killer, even though Fugain simply acted in blind panic. Buron steps out of the interrogation momentarily, leaving Fugain with his one-eyed associate Philippe (Marc Fraize), who promptly impales himself on a protractor, leaving Fugain with a dead body in the middle of the police station.
The comedy of errors revolves around Fugain’s innocence and his continual need to cover up a crime he did not commit. Whether he’s shoving Phillippe’s body in a locker or surreptitiously burning off his fingerprints out of Buron’s sight, there’s a constant game of cat and mouse that only Fugain is aware they’re playing. This is complemented well by Dupieux’s usual penchant for strange non-sequiturs, like a mysterious smoking hole in Buron’s side and Fugain’s perplexed inability to properly eat an oyster. These moments are the laugh-out-loud punctuation as the film continually digs deeper into its bizarre parody of police investigation.
While Fugain is necessarily distracting Buron and his colleagues from Phillipe’s body, he is recounting the banality of the night he discovered the body outside his apartment, and his guilt over Phillipe begins seeping its way into his recounting. This causes his flashbacks to not only have visual gaps like the clocks never showing a consistent time, but for his memories to get sidetracked by hauntings from Phillipe and his newly widowed wife (Anaïs Demoustier), all while Buron patiently waits for a zoned-out Fugain to get back on track. The only becomes more absurd as Buron and Fugain slip into each other’s flashbacks, amplifying the risk that Fugain’s mental detours could give him away.
This joke at the expense of police investigation and the illusion of guilt does run a bit thin even as the film barely clocks out past the one-hour mark, but there’s no denying that the premise and observations are funny. One could argue that Keep An Eye Out is Dupieux at his most grounded, since most of this film’s absurdities take place within the minds of his characters and not in their reality, but one would also have to disregard the complete curveball of the film’s ending, which comes without warning and risks losing anyone who stuck around on the assumption that Dupieux had reigned himself in. It certainly drives home Dupieux’s opinion on how much police care about actual guilt in the suspects they interrogate, which makes this just as satirically pointed as any of his other works.
All in all, Keep An Eye Out is a curiosity that requires little time investment and has the potential to make a new fan of anyone curious about Dupieux’s filmography. If you’re already a fan, then you aren’t going to want to miss it.
Keep An Eye Out opens in virtual cinemas on March 5, 2021.
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