• Golden Globe Awards

Mandibles (France)

Meet Manu and Jean-Gab, (played by the French comedy act David Marsais and Grégoire Ludig), two broke halfwit losers hanging out on the Côte d’Azur, ready for any opportunity to make some money. When they unexpectedly get an offer to earn €500 to transport a mysterious suitcase, the buddies steal an old Mercedes to get to their destination. Opening the trunk, they found a giant…fly! They decide to train it to rob banks for them, arguing it will be like a drone, only better, since it doesn’t need batteries.
This is only the beginning of Mandibles, another absurdist and trippy disconnected opus from French iconoclast director Quentin Dupieux whose cult following has exponentially grown since the beginning of his career in 2001 thanks to films like the astonishing 2010 Rubber, a horror-comedy about a vengeful tire on the loose killing people in the California desert. Or Deerskin, in which Jean Dujardin played a loopy character falling in love with his fringed suede jacket.
With his latest, Dupieux manages once again to bring to the screen his idiosyncratic style, nonsensical characters, washed out cinematography and off-tangent narratives to often puzzling effect.
“When I was pitching the movie,” he explains. “I used to say it was E.T. mixed with Dumb and Dumber! But the film that really guided me was No Country for Old Men.” An avowed fan of Bertrand Blier and Luis Bunuel, and less of David Lynch to whom he is sometimes compared, Dupieux confesses often getting his inspiration from dreams, in the pure Surrealist movement tradition. “The ones that come to you when you are half-asleep, when you doze off for five minutes during the day. The brain keeps working and you get those great ideas!”
So how did he manage to create that enormous fly? “At some point, production suggested I do it with CGI. But it wasn’t an option for me. It was important for the actors to have a real connection with the insect. So, we had a puppeteer hidden somewhere out of camera range, operating the fly like in old movies. It makes all the difference. For example, when the actors opened the trunk, it was the first time they saw the fly for real. We had kept it secret from them, to get some nice spontaneous reactions. It was just more fun like that.”
Mandibles is Dupieux’s third film shot in his home country after working in America for five years. “It was like a stylistic exercise to work there, about satisfying a fantasy,” he admits. “I needed to come back to France and the language I understand.”
But don’t ask him to over analyze his movies. “Being philosophical is not my thing,” he pleads. “There’s always got to be an exit door. Even when I am talking about something intimate or serious, I have to break it off with laughs. Otherwise, I worry I am going to bore people, or bore myself. In the end, I just want to make people laugh.”