Review: Coincoin and the Extra-Humans
by Kaleem Aftab
- LOCARNO 2018: A brilliant second season of Bruno Dumont’s superb series revolving around “Li’l Quinquin” features aliens, refugees and our favourite madcap cops
Bruno Dumont is receiving a Pardo d’onore Manor Lifetime Achievement Award at the Locarno Film Festival, and in gratitude, he has brought a gift to the gathering: his new TV series Coincoin and the Extra-Humans. If anything, Coincoin is even better than the series that preceded it, Li’l Quinquin [+see also:
film profile], which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. The director has built his stellar reputation on austere dramas, and his lurch into comedy surprised audiences and critics alike. It did not come as much of a shock when French cinema bible Cahiers du Cinema named it the best picture of 2014, knocking Jean-Luc Godard into the second spot. Coincoin and the Extra-Humans has the honour of being the first TV series to be screened in the luscious open-air surrounds of the Piazza Grande at the Locarno Film Festival.
In season two, Quinquin is now in the full bloom of adolescence and goes by the nickname Coincoin (Alane Delhaye). If season one, which featured a bumbling police investigation into a serial killer, was a hilarious twist on Dumont’s 1999 masterpiece Humanity, season two is a riff on the director’s debut film, La vie de Jésus (1997), with its themes of awkward first sexual encounters, immigration and the supernatural.
The mixture of social realism, especially the rise of the far right, and alien adventure is the sort of melange of genres that British director Edgar Wright specialises in. Once again, Dumont’s trump card is the amazing performances by Bernard Pruvost and Philippe Jore as police investigators Roger Van Der Weyden and Rudy Carpentier. There is a clear similarity in the absurdist portrait of the police between Roger and Humanity’s Pharaon de Winter, but it’s not heaping too much praise to say that actor Pruvost also reaches the heights of the great Peter Sellers in his Pink Panther guise. Pruvost, with his impressive facial tics, and Jore, with his incredible reactive looks, have returned to their characters with a confidence that stems from the amazing reaction to season one, and here, they are able to play their roles for even bigger laughs, as the second season is much more of a comedy than season one, a consequence of losing some of the psychological aspects seen in the investigation of the serial killers in L’il Quinquin.
Coincoin starts with the arrival of a mysterious black magma that falls from the sky onto the residents of the Côte D’Opale. Coincoin has discovered that his love interest, Eve (Lucy Caron), has become a lesbian, and he seeks solace in the arms of Jenny (Alexia Depret). Coincoin, with his best friend Fatso (Julien Bodart), hang out at meetings of nationalist group Le Bloc as Dumont links the reaction to the black tar falling from the sky to the treatment of immigrants living in makeshift homes. All four episodes are excellent, and the body doubles are a tribute to the great cinematic tradition of doppelgangers.
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