Monday, June 24, 2024

Same As It Ever Was

L'empire (2024) - Dumont Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 8.59.38 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 9.13.06 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 9.22.40 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 9.24.29 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 9.39.47 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 9.49.41 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 10.27.00 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 10.29.30 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 10.34.24 AM Screen Shot 2024-06-23 at 10.37.42 AM Bruno Dumont's cinematic stunt continues with a large-scale Sci-fi Star Wars/Dune parody L'empire. It's completely over the top and ridiculous, you wonder what happened to this once a practitioner of Bressonian way of filmmaking and lost his ways. For those who remember, Dumont's foray into absurdist comedies started with P'tit Quinquin, a 4-part TV mini-series taking place in his beloved Brittany featuring odd-looking locals and odder police pair Weyden (Bernard Pruvost) and Carpentier (Philippe Jore) investigating odd happenings in the windswept sand dunes of the provincial sleepy coastal community. That was a decade ago. Since then, the director's charade continued with Slack Bay, two Joan of Arc musicals, a sequel to Quinquin, a TV journalism satire, France. It's been 10 years of this funny/unfunny, French comedies. When would this end and when is he going to snap out of this cringe fest? Well with L'empire, not anytime soon.

Again, in a small windswept dune-y small French town, nothing is what it seems. The townsfolks are divided into the intergalactic forces of Ones and Zeros. Get it? Ones are the benevolent beings trying to defeat Zeros from taking over earth by siring a demon offspring called the Wain. Their spaceships are fashioned on a giant cathedral with stained glass windows (Ones) and a Marienbad inspired Palace (Zeros). Ones are trying to appeal goodness in humanity and Zeros are counting on bad, destructive impulses of humans. There's a local fisherman, Jony (Brandon Vlieghe) who turned into a black knight for the Zeros, protecting his infant son, the Wain who will bring out the apocalypse in the earth. Then there's Jane (Anamaria Vartolomei of Happening), a princess on the side of Ones. There's going to be light sabers battle, a black hole, dancing Fabrice Luchini in a funny costume as the ruler of the Zeros and of course, our clueless gendarmes Weyden and Carpentier too, oblivious to the dueling intergalactic empires in their backyard.

Jony and Jane hook up and have wild sex because Jony convinces prudish Jane that while they are in human form, they might as well enjoy. They are sworn enemies for eternity, but deep inside they are in love!

L'empire's ham fisted approach on colonialism - the European empires dueling for the 'heart of the people,' and its obvious parodying of Hollywood sci-fi epics, are funny for a while. But it’s also extremely silly and unengaging, save for the presence of Vartolomei and Lina Khoudri who plays Line, a selfie obsessed influencer who becomes a partner of Jony. I just hope someone talk some sense to Dumont and stop this nonsense. The joke has been going on for too long!