EIFF 2021: Mandibles

Quentin Dupeuix is back and on surreal form with Mandibles, which begins as an inescapably kooky buddy-comedy but blossoms brilliantly into a humanistic celebration of friendship

Film Review by Lauren Musa-Green | 02 Sep 2021
  • Mandibles
Film title: Mandibles
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Starring: Grégoire Ludig, David Marsais, Adèle Exarchopoulos

“Strange, isn't it?” That’s the perfectly reasonable reaction by our irreverent protagonist, Manu (Grégoire Ludig), when he finds he has unintentionally kidnapped a freakishly large fly while embarking on a hasty get-rich-quick scheme with his best friend, Jean Gab (David Marsais). From that setup, it’s surely clear that Quentin Dupeuix’s Mandibles hasn’t strayed far from the absurdist storylines we have come to expect from the French director – such as in his earlier work Rubber (2010), which features a murderous car tyre in the starring role.

From here, strap in for a wild goose chase with this zany double act, who first land in a desert setting, where they begin to train their newfound pet to do tricks. It’s here we begin to see a more detailed glimpse into their eccentric friendship, reminiscent of the duo in Dumb and Dumber. The leads begin to employ a similarly exaggerated acting style through their quasi-slapstick facial expressions and childish mannerisms. Initially, this ‘comedy of errors’ feels inescapable, with the pair's phatic conversations dominating the dialogue, filled with pauses and prosaic onomatopoeias.

However, as the narrative progresses, more humanistic elements of this tongue-in-cheek comedy blossom brilliantly. One of Dupieux’s central aims, he’s said, was to “celebrate friendship, because it's beautiful”. Although this concept could have easily been diluted by the kooky storyline and unrelatable characters, it eventually shines through. We ultimately warm to the charmingly foolish pair, along with their cryptically nonsensical handshake.

Mandibles had its UK premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival

Lauren Musa-Green is a 19-year-old student from Birmingham, who's about to start studying Film and TV at the University of Edinburgh. She was part of Edinburgh International Film Festival's Young Critics Programme 2021. For more on EIFF's Young Critics Programme, click here

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