It’s a little difficult to adequately describe Reality, the new film by Quentin Dupieux – and that’s undoubtedly the intention of this gifted, versatile filmmaker who revels joyously in the absurd.
Dupieux wrote, directed, shot, edited and scored the film – and has scored on every level. Whether we’re watching a movie, a movie-within-a-movie, a dream, a nightmare, a fantasy, a hallucination, simple make-believe, or merely the whim of its maker, Reality is the sort of imaginative extravaganza in which it’s best to simply hang on (tight) and enjoy the ride, which is impossible to predict yet just as hard to resist.
The cast includes Alain Chabat as a TV cameraman desperate to direct his first feature, a sci-fi shocker about killer television sets called Waves. Jonathan Lambert plays the sort of highpowered, hard-to-please Hollywood producer who thinks nothing of shooting surfers from the deck of his seaside estate. Elodie Bouchez plays Chabat’s therapist wife; Kyla Kenedy plays a bright and inquisitive little girl named “Reality”; the always welcome John Glover plays a veteran director named Zog, whose latest film is being produced (none too happily) by Lambert; and erstwhile Napoleon Dynamite pop-culture poster boy Jon Heder plays the costumed host of a TV cooking show – the very one that Chabat toils on.
These characters interact in different ways, through different mediums, and on different wavelengths. It’s never made clear, nor does it need to be, whether they actually exist in reality – because, after all, movies are a figment of the imagination. Dupieux doesn’t play by the rules because he doesn’t establish any. Having set no barriers for himself, he has indulged in a smashing souffle of ideas, images and sheer craziness. And all of it works. (In English and French with English subtitles)
– Reality will be screened 7:30 pm Thursday at SECCA
(For more RiverRun film festival reviews, see Page 31)