Slack Bay Screen 69 of 18 reviews

Slack Bay

2016

Slack Bay Poster
  • Dumont's attention to light, form, and motion is achieved gracefully, seemingly even casually, with an off-kilter spontaneity that matches their emotional fullness. Loud and rowdy comedy and its repetitive antics fuses with quietly transcendent tenderness, a geographical devotion to terrain meets special effects of a simple, irrational sublimity.

  • Everyone overacts with comic gusto, and the narrative is deliberately outlandish. This takes place around 1910 and revolves around an upper class clan visiting the countryside, a local family of cannibals, and a pair of inept police inspectors, all of whom interact in unexpected—and frequently garish—ways. There’s little else like it out there, and it once again confirms Dumont’s skill at using cinema as a tool to mess with our heads.

  • What makes Slack Bay so magical are its surfaces: cinematographer Guillaume Deffontaines’s widescreen compositions conjure up a sun-blind paradise of aquamarine skies and endless horizon lines. The result is a surpassingly serene film about brutality that also offers a modest proposal that reconciliation between rich and poor is possible, provided the elders on either side don’t let their skepticism and resentments swallow them whole.

  • A follow-up to the unexpectedly popular P’tit Quinquin, Ma Loute recycles the earlier film’s detective framework and bouts of slapstick mayhem, as well as abundantly mining the innate humour generated by the rustic Ch’ti dialect. After establishing himself as a po-faced minimalist with works such as Hadewijch (2009) and Hors Satan (2011), Dumont’s shift to high farce is as unexpected as it is vivifying, and on the back of P’tit Quinquin and Ma Loute, we can only hope it continues.

  • It returns [Dumont] to the environs of la Côte d’Opal in northern France where P’tit Quinquin takes place, and redeploys comedic narrative lines that are similar, such as a detective plot with two bumbling officers (locals who are most definitely nordistes with heavy accents) and a story of young love at its centre, suggests a desire to expand his TV experiment into full cinematic form, which he achieves with great aplomb.

  • One the one hand, there is a singular quality to Slack Bay that puts it far above anything else I am liable to see this year. There is simply nothing else like it, even in Dumont's already out-there filmography. On the other hand, the more one looks at this film (or gawks at it, as the case may be), the more evident it becomes that Dumont really does have some rather schematic ideas underpinning the apparent anarchy.

  • The collaboration between Dumont and his recent cinematographer of choice, Guillaume Deffontaines, pays particularly fruitful dividends, with the director’s immaculate framing and opulent mise-en-scène attracting and maintaining interest even as the humor begins to grow tiresome. Dumont’s dedication to material this singular and out-of-step with current trends is admirable, imbuing the film with a strange allure unlikely to be replicated elsewhere.

  • There has yet to be a more divisive film screened in Cannes so far, but this is not a vision tailored to the art film tastes, especially those who may have held his early work in high regard. Despite a foregrounded progressivism that conspicuously critiques the cretinous frivolity of aristocracy, and while also exhibiting a pronounced sympathy with the transgender community, Slack Bay is chiefly an entertainment geared toward maximal inclusivity.

  • In a story that sometimes musters tender sympathy for society's misfits, Dumont's mismatched clash of whimsy and grotesquerie feels fitting. When it's not aiming for something that complex, it's got some good clean slapstick to tide us over: even Bruno Dumont, it turns out, appreciates the simple pleasures of a broken-deckchair gag.

  • A radical shift in tone from the director's usual patient style, the new movie plays like a madcap, surrealist remix of Dumont's own "Li'l Quinquin," which also revolves around a pair of oddball detectives exploring possible crimes in a seaside community. But whereas "Li'l Quinquin" was a disquieting and at times suspenseful drama, "Slack Bay" takes a familiar form of bourgeoisie satire and turns it up to the max, resulting in a fun, if familiar, rebellious gesture.

  • Cannibalism may not be everyone's idea of funny, but French director Bruno Dumont (L'Humanité, Hadewijch) elevates it to ghoulish camp in this slapstick skewering of the French bourgeoisie... Dumont tips his hat to Luis Buñuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, but this fanciful satire lacks Buñuel's bite.

  • It seethes with a loathing of TV costume drama mysteries and wants to be the whoopee cushion that deflates them. It’s full of surreal invention, and gorgeously shot, but you get the sense that Dumont, by letting his top-rank French cast go way OTT, traps himself in a vein of French comedy that’s an acquired taste at best. Had it cared more about the creation of an adventure world with a twist, it could have rivalled Wes Anderson’s films, but I would imagine that’s the last thing Dumont wants.

  • Despite a wonderful use of location—for the bracing, almost confrontative character of Dumont’s best films lay not only in filming the local population but in bringing out the rash beauty and bleak spareness of his countryside—the film’s range of humor is limited and the laughs wane as the same jokes are repeated.

  • One dinner table scene finds characters coming to terms with long-repressed secrets through weirdly revealing jags of crying and laughing. But more often the tone is just too schizophrenic. A late attempt to galvanize all the disparate parts with a supernatural flourish doesn't seem to represent Dumont's usual interest in the consequences of human nature so much as an indifference toward his characters fate.

  • Disappointingly, the film feels like someone trying very hard to imitate Li’l Quinquin, pulling off but a pallid counterfeit.

  • Even though it’s admirably high on eccentric incident, it still comes across like Dumont is replaying the same jokes and motifs over and over with little in the way of basic cohesion. Two hours is made to feel a very long time.

  • Despite its starry cast and stunning production values, the period-set Slack Bay seems unlikely to win a vast following either in France – where it’s released simultaneously with its Cannes premiere - or abroad, as its humour is too downright weird and disconcerting. Besides, this knowingly excessive brew of cartoonish knockabout and macabre comedy horror just isn’t that funny.

  • Dumont’s direction for the movie stars appears to have been, “start with an absurd caricature of inbred foppishness, then quintuple it, then quintuple that, okay you’re halfway there, now bigger please.” (Meanwhile, the police inspector investigating all the disappearances constitutes the broadest, most shameless series of fat jokes since Chris Farley died.)

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