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Review: Mandibles

Review: Mandibles

There are very few people in the industry quite like Quentin Dupieux who has made a career out of telling wholly original stories unlike anything else out there. From “Rubber,” a movie about a serial killer tire, to “Deerskin,” a film about a man who buys a deerskin jacket that convinces him that he should be the only one in the world who wears a jacket, it’s clear that Dupieux is not afraid to get a little bizzare. His new film “Mandibles” continues that tradition of absurd and surreal comedies by introducing a world full of wacky characters led by two hapless losers who find a gigantic fly in the trunk of a car they’ve stolen and decide to try and domesticate it with hopes of striking it rich.

The movie opens with Manu (played by Grégoire Ludig) accepting a job transporting a briefcase to a client for a large sum of money. This is a no questions asked sort of job and Manu, who doesn’t even own a car, accepts the job and immediately strolls the streets to find the first unlocked car he can find before going to pick up his friend, Jean-Gab (played by David Marsais) to accompany him on this seemingly simple job. Shortly into the trip the two hear a strange noise coming from the trunk of the car and proceed to investigate the source of the sound, which turns out to be a giant fly, and what does one do when they find a giant fly in the trunk of the car they’ve stolen? Think of a way to use this to their advantage and turn their lives around of course.

Jean-Gab plants the idea into Manu’s head of training the fly to listen to them which in turn will allow them to tell the fly to sneak into banks and stealing money for them and Manu goes along with it. This leads the pair on a road trip of a lifetime as they begin training the fly like you would a dog. The fly itself isn’t the main attraction in this story tho as the cast of wacky characters the two encounter along the way make sure the films 77 minute runtime moves along briskly.

There’s never a dull moment and when it seems like the encounters couldn’t get any weirder they do. From the strange old man living in a RV that the pair take over as their headquarters temporarily to the girl who mistakenly recognizes Manu as an old classmate before inviting them to stay at her home for a couple days there’s no shortage of interesting scenarios to put them in and watch them fumble their way through. The fly is dragged along for the ride but the story revolves mostly around Manu and Jean-Gab struggling to handle these encounters before continuing their journey to obtain the briefcase.

There isn’t some grand resolution to all of this either as each encounter ends with completely loose ends and I found that to make them even more fascinating and interesting to think about. What happens to the old man after he escapes the bumbling Manu while leading him to a buried treasure? We never find out which might frustrate some viewers but the absolute insanity of it all is going to lead to plenty of discussions about what you think might have happened. It all has a very Coen Brothers feel and honestly this movie gave me “The Big Lebowski” vibes throughout.

I had pretty high expectations for this one and it exceeded all of them and this is going to go down as one of my favorite films I’ve seen in 2021. There’s a lot of humor here but there’s also heart as it’s hard not to get invested in seeing where all of these plot lines lead. Jean-Gab and Manu are somehow incredibly likable while also being incredibly incompetent. There were times where I was afraid of how it was all going to end but the ending left me with a big smile on my face but also a feeling of disappointment as I could’ve watched another couple hours of this. Quentin Dupieux has one of the more interesting filmographies out there and this movie has solidified him as a must-see director for me as “Mandibles” is his best work to date.

5.0 out of 5.0 stars