Li’l Quinquin Screen 24 articles

Li’l Quinquin

2014

Li’l Quinquin Poster
  • Such injections of levity, coupled with fewer grotesque provocations than Dumont generally favors, make Li’l Quinquin one of his more accessible works. His stubborn refusal to provide closure, however, gets magnified here, with the shrug of an ending coming across as especially unsatisfying due to the project’s unusual length.

  • Dumont reminds me (never more so than in this lengthy, sustained work) that cinema is an art form of the exterior: of surfaces, of the visible. In other words, cinema shows us with unequalled vividness and detail that no two surfaces are alike, no two bodies, no two faces. Thus, cinema in Dumont’s hands becomes actualized as a medium of radical difference.

  • With his new film, Dumont is back on solid ground, tilling it rather doggedly at that. One of the surprises of this year’s Cannes was that the frequently divisive Dumont had delivered a near-consensus critical darling. There were explanations for this: P’tit Quinquin was touted as Dumont’s first comedy, and there’s no doubt that over the course of the first two episodes especially, one can see the series lurching in odd directions in pursuit of unexpected black humour.

  • [One scene at a funeral] is sad, then hilarious, then tedious, then bizarre, then disturbing. The more you watch it, the less you know what to think. The same could be said for Li’l Quinquin itself, which starts off like it might be France’s answer to Twin Peaks, then begins to feel like Robert Bresson was asked to make True Detective with the cast of Freaks. That sounds insensitive, but it’s hard to pin down just exactly what Dumont wants us to think here.

  • Presented in its unedited 200 minutes, this is big-screen binge-watching, and offers a meandering, ramshackle portrait of the state of a nation rather than the usual arc-and-resolution structure expected of a feature film. Yet the series’ place in the cinema is fully justified by Guillaume Deffontaines’ ’Scope lensing, which maintains a comically panoramic distance from all the pastoral perversity on display.

  • L’il Quinquin is another one of Dumont’s allegories of grace and cruelty, but this time, it’s served with self-awareness, slapstick hijinks, impressively unprofessional police work, and adventurously bad driving. And the thing about the humor is that it doesn’t dilute the vision, but complicate it, finally allowing it to evolve.

  • This absurdist metaphysical murder mystery—which begins with the discovery of human body parts stuffed inside a cow—is also a brilliant recasting of this singular director’s moral and theological obsessions in a tender, tragicomic register.

  • The odd mix of elements makes for an alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) hilarious and unsettling whole, and yet another compelling example of established bigscreen auteurs finding their richest opportunities in longform television.

  • Here [Dumont] unveils a full-blown, hilarious comic sensibility which somehow organically proceeds from but casts an entirely new light on everything that’s gone before. Why didn’t it emerge before? Did Dumont calculate that the best way to establish his reputation was to adhere to the post-Bressonian mode of what’s since become known as ‘slow cinema’—i.e. generally morose, downbeat treatments of serious, sad subjects?

  • Watching it—with an appreciative capacity audience—I couldn’t shake the idea that Dumont had made it... Of the many exciting things I felt during the film, the thought that excited me the most was that this had been a challenge for Dumont to make: it feels like the work of someone finally stretching himself.

  • The Nord-Pas-de-Calais setting brings us back to Dumont’s L’Humanité (99), but Quinquin’s gleefully protracted comedic sequences suggest that the filmmaker may have a better (or deeper) sense of humor than critics have credited him with.

  • The director, Bruno Dumont, returns to his native northern France for a grand yet nuanced fresco of rural life that’s as intimate and loving as it is derisive and horrific... As the investigation unfolds and more bodies keep turning up, Dumont—who seems to know every inch of the terrain and every idiosyncrasy of the residents—lays bare the crude sediment of country life: the wounds of history, ancient family grudges, xenophobia and racism, a density of unchallenged tradition.

  • The basically repetitive nature of even the best serialized storytelling is usually figured into film vs. television debate, but Dumont uses it to his advantage: he wryly emphasizes the evenness of the proceedings and then smartly spikes the action with broad dialogue or sight gags. (A late bit where the hard-driving Carpentier brings his police vehicle around the corner on two tires like Herbie the Love Bug brings the house down).

  • The French mini-series Li’l Quinquin may not exactly be “un film de Bruno Dumont,” but it’s instantly recognizable as his work. He’s put his personal stamp on these windswept vistas of rural northern France. Still, working for the small screen has led to a certain mellowing out. Li’l Quinquin isn’t free from grotesquerie, but it’s one of Dumont’s most humanist works.

  • With his first long-form television production, Dumont has added a potent ingredient to his mix: a salty humor that adds a much needed emotional release to his trademark intractability, with a regional charm reminiscent of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo. We may still not understand what people are up to, but now we can smile at the absurd parade of follies as facets of a local culture that’s as thick as knotted wood.

  • One of the festival’s highlights was without question the presentation of the four episodes of Bruno Dumont’s P’tit Quinquin (Li’l Quinquin), originally produced for television. The title points at the desire to plunge into some of the questionable aspects of French popular culture...

  • Through these various chess pieces, Dumont reveals his interest in the ways both ideology and cinema are necessarily predicated on fine lines separating polarities, where religious ritual melds with pop fodder and austere drama quickly gives way to slapstick shenanigans. Most impressive, then, is that all of the principal characters are first-time actors, with Dumont finding Bressonian inspiration amid Pasolinian grotesqueries.

  • Saying "P'tit Quinquin" is Dumont's funniest and warmest film doesn't count for much, but could I interest you in one of the sharpest autocritiques in recent memory? Dumont's real trick isn't spinning his iconic imagery for laughs, but doing so without straying from his usual mission of investigating the extent to which humans can possibly be modeled after God in the most violent imaginable terms. That's having your cake and eating it in ways Lars Von Trier could only dream of.

  • The comedy in Li’l Quinquin makes you giddy with pleasure, but leads you into that thought-provoking, dangerous zone where you have to check if you are laughing with the characters or at them—or perhaps if they are laughing at you. Li’l Quinquin is sui generis. It feels like nothing if not a Bruno Dumont movie, though anyone who enjoyed the knotting of laughter and the macabre in Twin Peaks will want to see it.

  • Dumont so deftly mixes comedy with a sort of existential horror that perhaps what's most surprising are the moments of real tenderness and warmth--Quinquin's unhesitating defense of his mentally handicapped uncle, his loving relationship with his girlfriend, Eve. This is the film's greatest strength (and what keeps it engaging for all of it's three hours and seventeen minutes) --characters who are at once monstrous, ridiculous, and deeply touching.

  • Mr. Dumont has denied ever seeing “Twin Peaks,” but the giggly priest and the hauntingly avant-garde ballad of teenage angst yodeled in phonetic English by the town’s would-be superstar (Lisa Hartmann, who wrote the song herself) are as suggestive of David Lynch’s series as the episode in which two British tourists fail to contain the restaurant antics of their grown, mentally disturbed son is of Lars von Trier’s “The Idiots.”

  • P’tit Quinquin is as expansive a portrait as Dumont has made of the hidden fears, depravities, and moralities that govern rural life. Combining a darkly comedic detective drama with a youthful coming-of-age narrative, Dumont creates a painterly film in which pastoral landscapes meld with expressive, character-filled faces.

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    Sight & Sound: Jonathan Romney
    July 10, 2015 | August 2015 Issue (pp. 62-63)

    The fact remains: P'tit Quinquin really is funny, in a sometimes surprisingly broad, knockabout way, while being utterly recognisable as the work of one of Europe's most intransigently distinctive auteurs.

  • It’s a singular treat: a Twin Peaks-twisted mystery, set in starkest rural France yet executed with the knockabout flair of a Keystone Cops jape... as the bumbling investigation snakes circuitously around a community riddled with eccentrics and malcontents, a peculiarly warm feeling for human failing settles in; antic farce turns out to be as suitable a vessel for Dumont’s spiritual preoccupations as dour allegory, and a good deal more fun.

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