Review by Sean Boelman
The films of French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux serve a particular taste with their unique brand of absurdism. Keep an Eye Out, his lampoon of the police film genre, may be one of his more normal and accessible films yet, but don’t think that means that it is any less thoughtful or hilarious.
The film follows a police officer questioning a murder suspect as things continuously do not go according to plan. Anyone who is a fan of Dupieux’s past work will know that there is a lot more to the film than that, though, and the payoff is ridiculously satisfying in a way that will almost certainly keep the viewer off guard.
Of course, much of the brief hour-and-thirteen-minute runtime is made up of comedic hijinks, ranging from slapstick comedy to random and bizarre images that get a laugh simply by showing up when one least expects it. It’s a style of humor that some won’t understand the charm of, but the niche that does appreciate it will be rolling in laughter.
Detractors of Dupieux’s work struggle to find a meaning in the absurdity, but his films are not being weird just for the hell of it. This film is perhaps the best argument yet for there being a point to the madness of Dupieux. Here, the filmmaker takes the bumbling cop trope and exaggerates it, making fun of not only police movies, but the police themselves.
The character development in the film isn’t great, but that is rarely one of Dupieux’s strengths. In all but a few of his films, the characters are pretty archetypal, and this is no exception. However, the dynamic that exists between the two central characters is great, and there are even a few funny side characters that pop up.
A lot of the comedic timing owes its effectiveness to the talents of Grégoire Ludig and Benoît Poelvoorde. Ludig is hilarious as the supposedly dumb criminal that has wits that he just needs the opportunity to prove, and Poelvoorde is quite funny as his foil, the “smart cop” that keeps making dumb mistakes. And in the supporting cast, Marc Frazie’s performance is an absolute gem.
The film doesn’t have the same level of visual oomf as a lot of Dupieux’s other films, but there is some creativity in the end. For the most part, the film is set in a single room in a police station that isn’t the most involved. Still, there are a few excellent visual gags that Dupieux manages to pull off.
Keep an Eye Out is nowhere near as crazy as most of Quentin Dupieux’s stuff, but it still has plenty to enjoy for fans. And as the most easily palatable comedy he’s made, this could serve as a strong entry point for the uninitiated.
Keep an Eye Out hits theaters and virtual cinemas on March 5. A list of locations can be found here.