Greetings again from the darkness. For those who found last year’s Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) to be too linear and overly coherent, may I present the latest from writer/director Quentin Dupieux. You might recognize the name from his films that have developed cult followings – Rubber (2010) and Wrong (2012).
Dupieux seems obsessed with the blurred lines between the conscious and sub-conscious, so one can only imagine what he means by titling his movie “Reality”. To ensure that we remain in a constant cloud of confusion, there is a key character who is a young girl (Kyla Kenedy) acting in her own movie. Her name is … what else? … Reality.
One can’t really use the term plot when describing the film, but what follows is my best attempt. Jason Tantra (played by the always terrific Alain Chabat) is a camera man on a locally produced talk show about cooking that stars a rat-costume wearing host Denis (Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite). Jason wants to make his own movie starring a reluctant Denis (who suffers from eczema on the inside), and pitches his sci-fi idea of human-killing TV sets to film producer Bob Marshall (played by Jonathan Lambert). Marshall agrees to back the movie if Jason can come up with an award-winning perfect groan of pain within 48 hours.
Meanwhile Reality (the girl) is being filmed by avant-garde director Zog (John Glover), and she finds a blue video cassette inside the gut of a wild boar killed by her father. In the process of trying to watch the tape, she spots a cross-dressing Eric Wareheim (from “Tim and Eric” fame) driving a military jeep through town. In one of his many dreams, Jason pictures himself at the awards ceremony where he wins for best groan … the award is presented by Oscar winning director Michel Hazanavicius and Roxane Mesquida (who was in Rubber). The topper of all sequences involves Jason having a phone conversation with producer Marshall while at the theatre watching his unmade movie while Marshall simultaneously has an in-person meeting with Jason. If you follow any of the above, this movie is made for you. If you didn’t follow any of it, congratulations on your continued acceptable level of sanity.
Inside jokes abound here, and Dupieux takes a few shots at the filmmaking business, and what constitutes creativity. Fellow French filmmaker Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep, 2006) may be the closest comparison to Dupieux, but the latter seems more focused on pushing the boundaries of lunacy and yes, Reality.