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Artist review: A look at the work of Quentin Dupieux

By Eoin McKenna
Oxford Stories

There is one early moment in Quentin Dupieux’s 2012 film, “Wrong,” where Dupieux’s subtle genius comes to a head in an incredible display. In said scene, Eric Judor – playing gardener Victor – is seen in deep focus as he works away in a notebook smoking a cigarette.

Victor glances up before comparing his work to the lawnmower before him. The camera then cuts to show the audience exactly what his intense focus is, and we see Victor’s efforts were the following crude sketch.

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Victor’s continues to focus on the sketch, before noticing his boss is arriving. He hurriedly hides his sketch pretending to be working.

Dupieux fascination with mediocrity, and the pursuit of actions, which make no sense, may be lost on some viewers, yet in this scene, said fascination is put on full display, to great comedic effect.

Why is Victor sketching during work? Why would his subject be a lawnmower? Why is he drawing in Sharpie? Why is a grown man drawing like a child?

Dupieux, or as he calls himself when releasing music, Mr. Oizo, is a French born filmmaker and electronic musician. Dupieux’s penchant for the surreal combined with razor sharp wit and unmatched musical ability continues to make him one of the most exciting contemporary artists, despite having an expansive body of work dating back to 1997.

To understand Dupieux, you have to understand his reasonings. Dupieux acknowledges that the question most ask when watching his films is “Why?” It is the first thing he addresses in his 2010 cult horror film “Rubber.”

The opening monologue, spoken by Stephen Spinella playing character Lieutenant Chad, is as follows: “In Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK,’ why is the president suddenly assassinated by some stranger? No reason.”

In the excellent “Texas Chainsaw 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 f***in’ reason.”

This tenet is the single most important thing to keep in mind while experiencing Dupieux’s work. To enjoy what he has made, you must let go of your questioning, convictions, or sense of reality.

Dupieux’s catalog of work is daunting both for its immense size, and the mindset required to feel the full scope. The film I recommend to get the strongest understanding of Dupieux, while also an incredible viewing experience is his 2012 film “Wrong,” following a man as he attempts to psychically connect with his missing dog.

The films combination of surreal humor, interesting and straightforward plot, and beautiful soundtrack is perfect for an individual looking for a starting point to Dupieux’s catalog.

In regards to his music, the perfect starter album is his 2008, Lambs Anger, a 17-track showcase of Dupieux’s advanced electronic music prowess, from the electrifying opener “Hun,” where Dupiex shows his ability to craft a masterful electronic dance song to “Bruce Willis is Dead” where Dupiex seamlessly blends his comedy with music. Lambs Anger has something for anyone interested in experimental music.

To experience a world of no reason there is no artist I can recommend more highly than Quentin Dupieux.

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