Mandibles


When homeless Manu (Grégoire Ludig, "Keep an Eye Out") is offered 500 Euros to transport a suitcase, he hotwires an old Mercedes and picks up his buddy Jean-Gab (David Marsais) to share in the good fortune, but they are sidetracked by a noise emanating from the trunk from something they quickly surmise may provide a bigger windfall in “Mandibles.”


Laura's Review: B-

If you want to see “Blue Is the Warmest Color” star Adèle Exarchopoulos as a woman who can only communicate with her volume turned up to 11 because of a skiing accident who is falsely accused of eating a Chihuahua by a man who hopes to make his fortune training a giant fly, have I got a movie for you!  Absurdist French writer/director Quentin Dupieux ("Keep an Eye Out," "Deerskin") pairs two shiftless imbeciles with a three foot housefly in a stolen car and sends them on a series of misadventures that eventually lead to a satisfying punch line.

If thirtysomething Manu is homeless, Jean-Gab still lives with his mother who presumably owns the gas station where he works and where neither even consider filling up the tank of their stolen vehicle before taking off.  When Manu pulls over because of a weird whirring sound, it is Jean-Gab who believes the three foot long fly they find in the trunk is their ticket to financial freedom, but they need to find a space where they can train it.   Noticing a trailer parked back from the road, they move right in, assuming it’s been abandoned.  When the irate owner confronts them, they simply tie him up.  Jean-Gab spends what little cash they have on cat food for the fly he’s named Dominique and Manu simply learns to like it until he burns the entire place down attempting a fry up.

The boys, who share a bullhorn-shaped hand gesture they simultaneously cap with ‘Toro!’ to accentuate every development, move on, Manu now towing the Mercedes while riding a ridiculous unicorn bicycle.  Another car passes, then pulls over.  A young blond woman, Cécile (India Hair), insists Manu is a former high school classmate named Fred and offers not only help, but a place to stay.  She and her less welcoming brother Serge’s (Roméo Elvis) parents are away and they enjoy the run of a spacious home with a pool along with friends Sandrine (Coralie Russier, "Deerskin") and the ear-splitting Agnès (Adèle Exarchopoulos, "Blue Is the Warmest Color").  And yes, at one point Manu, needing cash, eventually does fulfill that initial ‘mission’ for Michel Michel (Philippe Dusseau) in what amounts to a bizarre non sequitur perfectly in keeping with the rest of Dupieux’s madcap vision.     

The film looks overlit, perhaps in keeping with its coastal vibe and the cast is obviously game (the leads co-won Best Actor at the Catalonian International Film Festival).  Most impressive is Dominique, the fly puppet not having to do a whole lot, but doing so believably.  I didn’t find this one’s humor as clever as that of “Keep an Eye Out,” depending, as it does, on watching two incredibly dumb guys doing dumb things seemingly randomly, but it certainly is an eccentric lark.  It is the most completely absurd of all of Dupieux’s films and that’s saying something.



Robin's Review: B-

Manu (Gregoire Ludig), not the brightest bulb in the circuit, is given an easy assignment by his boss: pick up a suitcase from Michel-Michel and deliver it to a particular place. He enlists his equally dim friend, Jean-Gab (David Marsais), and they steal a car for the mission. The only problem is there is a giant fly in the trunk. But, the dumb and dumber duo sees it as an opportunity to get rich quick in “Mandibles.”

I have seen at least a couple of writer-director Quentin Dupieux’s films (“Keep an Eye Out (2018)” and “Deerskin (2019)”) and I decided early on that this guy is a genuine goofball. And I say that as a compliment of the highest kind.

Think about it: two dimwits find a giant fly – by giant, I mean a three-foot long, 100-pound housefly – and set out to make a ton of money. Jean-Gab has the brainstorm idea to train Dominique (of course he gave her a name) and teach her to rob banks. Good idea, huh?
Along the way to becoming stinking rich, they have to find a “training facility” for Dominique. They take over a hermit’s tiny camper, accidentally burn it down – I did call them a dumb and dumber duo – and they have to find a new place for training. Then, Manu is mistaken for another by some girls driving past and they invite the pair to stay over. The problem of training is resolved.

The rest of this absurdist adventure is just that as Manu and Jean-Gab bring stupid to new heights. They are so dumb that the film could have been just that, dumb. But, Dupieux populates the story with suitably quirky characters that help temper the duo’s relentless stupidity and keep the absurd under control. But, they are still dumb as a post.

With what we have all been through for the past 18 months – and, I fear it may go on for 18 more – it is a good thing to have entertaining absurdity in hand, and we certainly get that.

"Mandibles" arrives in theaters and on digital from Magnet Releasing on 7/23/21.