Thursday, 16 October 2014


Bruno Dumont's chilly comedy exists both as an extension of his signature style and as a perversion of it. Li'l Quinquin possesses the same wry, aloof distance that has characterised his austere dramas thus far in his career, only it takes these qualities further than ever yet before, applying that sardonic edge to themselves. It's with this weary self-critiquing stance that Li'l Quinquin becomes a portrait of pessimism and profanity come full circle, fighting fire with fire, or perhaps ice with ice. Actually, Dumont's long pauses and the apparent simplicity and basic clarity of his mise-en-scene provide the perfect canvas for comedy, sourcing a certain, strange comic timing in the idiosyncrasy of his touch. In a landscape which, we come to observe, has been predictably smothered in an insidious evil, disguised in plain sight among the innocent naivety of these people and the bracing freshness of the Breton air, Dumont poses that we either hold our sides from laughing, or hold our heads in despair. The gutting final scene, after a gradual darkening in tone, assures the viewer that Dumont's inherent humanism has not been lost among all the politically incorrect humour. After over three hours, what qualities in Li'l Quinquin were once cute and beguiling have been unmasked as falsities, essentially, themselves disguising the harsh reality that Dumont desires us to take notice of - the film entire plays out like the slow, dispiriting realisation that the answers were there all along, staring you in the face, and you've spent too long enjoying yourself to make a difference now. Dumont's flippancy remains a tough sell, no matter how impressive his technique of introducing grandiose elements only to instantly degrade them, it can never offer genuine comfort. Where one may find such comfort in Li'l Quinquin, though, is in a peculiar attribute: the mentally handicapped actors here employed naturally project a dislocation with the rest of the world, but Dumont's world itself is so dislocated, that there's finally some small sense of belonging here.