71st Venice Film Festival
(first published in the e-book of Nisimazine
REVIEW: Reality by Quentin Dupieux (France, Belgium) – Orrizonti
Quentin Dupieux, director of the infamous Rubber (2010), has come to Venice with luggage full of distorted realities or better to say a strange need to explore the idea of mixing everybody's dreams, making us wonder if anything of what we saw was part of a twisted game. “Reality” struggles hard to find the necessary balance between its real purpose – if there is any - and the overachieved surrealism it inevitably shares.
Jason is a peaceful cameraman living in California. He is dreaming of making his own film, where television sets are the most dangerous thing in the whole planet. They produce those weird kind of waves that slowly make humans more stupid, while their ultimate goal is to extinguish them. He approaches Bob Marshal, a film producer, who gets overexcited with his crazy idea. He will sign the deal as soon as Jason gets the perfect groan in 48 hours.
But Jason's is not the only story we discover. A young man working as a TV presenter on a food program has an unstoppable need to scratch himself, thinking there is something terribly wrong with him, while everyone else thinks he is overreacting. A young girl witnesses a videotape coming out of the insides of an animal, while her father cleans it in order to embalm it. Nobody believes her, but we will come to know that this videotape somehow is the answer to loads of questions. All of those stories, as distant as they might seem with each other, they share something in common; the same confusing connection that leads to nothing more than a dead-end.
In the world Dupieux has created, parallel dreams stream like parades of surrealistic thoughts and acts on one's self and the perception of reality. While the first scenes seem indifferent, you do get hooked on the way the story evolves. The head-exploding music makes sure to achieve that in a conscious but also a deep subconscious level, while the physical effect of it can be disturbing for some time after you watch the film. You too immerse in a deep dream along with the characters. You too step by step lose the sense of reality presented to you.
Dreams lost in dreams in an endless maze with no exit signs. A surreal world where nothing makes sense and somehow everything fits in a distorted kind of way. This is what is being achieved through Dupieux's direction and the narrative he has chosen. His images betray his blurry vision though and the fact that none of these has any clear purpose, only to throw us into the endless world of dreaming.
The moments in the film that are meant to be humorous, fail to communicate any connection with the content. This constant attempt to revive the plot with funny moments is not enough to explain any of what is being shown. While Dupieux can't stop mixing his narrative, we keep wondering how such a promising idea of dreaming in a dream got stuck in all those flat characters and their tiresome realities. This flatness is probably used on purpose in order to intensify the hollowness they carry or probably the fact that they are just plain visitors in those dreary dreams.
There are many questions raised about the definition of our dreams as much as the perception that we have for the realities that surround us. For some of us it is complicated – or intentionally complicated - like in Dupieux's mind and for some others is simpler or indifferent. Those questions only meant to be left unanswered in a film that flirts with the vastness of the subconscious and manages at the same time to convey a frustrating self-conscious feeling. If you have never been lost in a dream, this is your chance to discover how that might feel. Are you ready?