Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bruno Dumont is back again with another "comedy," SLACK BAY. Run for the hills.

Ah, Bruno Dumont. If there is another international movie-maker coupling such great renown to so little talent, I shall be surprised. After regaling us with a couple of early and dark tales that were credited for raising more questions than supplying any answers (always a good ploy for pseudo deep-thinkers, and which TrustMovies admits took him in to some extent), Dumont moved on to two truly terrible, appallingly useless and unbelievable films -- Twenty-nine Palms (a new low-point in film-making) and Flanders (not much better).

After tackling religion, very poorly, in Hadewijch, this writer/director (shown at left) did a couple more films (that I chose not to see: we critics do have our limits), before apparently turning his attention to comedy with the well-received Li'l Quinquin, which pretty much every critic (even a majority of audiences) seemed to like. Now we have SLACK BAY, Dumont's new "comedy," which, after missing his last three movies, I decided to give a try. Oh, my god. This is an embarrassment beyond belief: one that has completely finished me off, Bruno-wise.

Ostensibly a mystery about the sudden disappearance in a seaside area of a few people (more and more of them as the movie progresses), in which our "favorite" director gets to try his hand at everything from cross-dressing to cannibalism to magical flying, in the process getting his extremely starry cast -- the strongest assembled for any of his movies -- to overact and embarrass themselves in ways that would immediately decimate less sturdy careers.

Until you've seen Juliette Binoche (above, center) overact like crazy, I swear you will not believe this is even possible. Fabrice Luchini (left and below) and Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi (right) fare a tad better, if only because they're allowed a tiny bit of subtlety along with their craziness.

M. Luchini has been given (or perhaps he actually chose it) a body deformity that enables him to appear grotesque, as do several other characters in the film, particularly, the very fat police inspector (Didier Després, below) involved in finding the culprits here, who consistently falls down -- quite literally -- on the job.

Yes, M. Després is rather heavy, but how the filmmaker heavy-handedly offers up this tired and repetitive slapstick schlock is so stupid that you may have to keep your hand under your chin to avoid the consistent dropping of your jaw. On the plus side, there is some lovely cinematography by Guillaume Deffontaines, and my favorite line of dialog comes as one character notes, "There's a storm on," when, all around, we see only clear, sunny skies.

Dumont makes his upper-class characters deformed and ridiculous and his lower class ones obdurate and nasty. His film work by now pretty much marks the man as a talent-free misanthrope, and Slack Bay only adds to the evidence on hand.

Yes, there's a love story of sorts, with one lover just about clubbing the other to death. Ah, how Dumont! What in hell is this filmmaker trying to say or do here? His movie fails as comedy most of all, but also as satire and/or political/social/religious critique. The film is something to see, all right, but mostly as a touchstone against which all lesser failures can be measured. Oh, come on now, you're probably saying: The movie can't be that bad! Yeah? See for yourself.

From Kino Lorber and running a head-scratching, mind-boggling two hours and two minutes, Slack Bay opened in New York City last week (at the FSLC and the Quad Cinema), and in Los Angeles yesterday, Friday, April 28 (at Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex and Playhouse 7. You can click here (then scroll down) to view upcoming playdates across the country.

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