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VENICE 2023 Out of Competition

Review: Daaaaaali!

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- VENICE 2023: The insanely prolific Quentin Dupieux keeps on delivering the crazy but is starting to show the first signs of fatigue

Review: Daaaaaali!
Jonathan Cohen in Daaaaaali!

Quentin Dupieux’s films should not be reviewed. There is really no point. Either you spoil something right away – which this reviewer tried her best not to do with Mandibles [+see also:
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, even though the issue was too big to hide, even in the boot of a car – or, even worse, you find yourself explaining the joke. Which means this article should probably end right now. Oh well.

The French director works so fast that he could be entering the Marvel universe soon: with Yannick [+see also:
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fresh off Locarno and Smoking Causes Coughing [+see also:
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prancing right behind it, we are talking superhuman speed. It’s impressive, but it also means that some of these films are bound to be more finely honed than others. The Venice out-of-competition title Daaaaaali! is still entertaining, and reference-loving film scholars will choke with excitement, but there are moments when it’s running on fumes.

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The story? Well, there is some of it. Somewhere. An aspiring journalist (Anaïs Demoustier) decides to interview Salvador Dalí (many, many people). It sounds like a scoop, a career-changing move she desperately needs, but the problems start to mount, and then he walks out. One time, then again, because he is unhappy with the total lack of cameras, with not having enough cameras, or with her natural look. Other people chime in, sexist comments are made, and absurd requests are met. And everything goes to hell, just because it’s hard to drive a Rolls-Royce on the beach.

Journos will love this concept, not half as crazy as it may seem – there are legends told about interviews that never took place, despite hours of waiting, or celebrities who walked out mid-sentence because the water wasn’t fizzy enough. Dupieux clearly remembers the water bit, but then takes it to another universe, one where logic repeatedly hits itself on the head with a cane and then eats it.

When Dalí – played by numerous actors referring to themselves in the third person and committing to the moustache, including Jonathan Cohen and Gilles Lellouche – has to walk down the corridor, the corridor never ends. When it rains, it rains dead dogs. When a priest tells a story about his dream, his companions are feasting on maggots. It’s all so idiotic that it confuses the hell out of you, and then you just howl because there is something delightful about the absolute silliness.

Still, there is a nagging sensation that this film could – and should – be much funnier, and some sequences drag. But as things finally come to an end, after repeated attempts à la The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, you are still grateful for the madness. As with every one of Dupieux’s films, it has to be seen to be believed. Don’t try to explain the joke.

Written, shot and edited by Quentin Dupieux, Daaaaaali! was produced by France’s Atelier de Production and France 3 Cinéma. It is sold overseas by Kinology.

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