Review: KEEP AN EYE OUT, At Its Best, Absolutely Brilliant
The first scene of Keep an Eye Out, another crazy film by France’s Quentin Dupieux, evokes that memorable speech from Rubber about how all the great films have stuff with "no reason" to be.
That’s because in said sequence, we see a man in underpants serving as a conductor of an orchestra that is playing in the open air! Once the guy in his underwear is caught by the police, Dupieux "locks us up" in a police station where the boss, the not-so-bright Buron (Benoît Poelvoorde), is conducting an interrogation on another man, Louis (Grégoire Ludig), who's suspected of murder after finding a corpse outside his apartment.
Throughout its 70+ minutes, Keep an Eye Out will continue to make the "no reason” speech from Rubber resonate in our heads thanks to the characteristic accumulation of absurdities of the always fun Dupieux. But this time -- in the midst of humorous issues such as Buron interrupting the interrogation at his whim or eating a hot dog as if nothing is happening while his son tells him that he was about to commit suicide -- Dupieux introduces a plot with genuine elements of suspense.
Another officer (Marc Fraize), who is one-eyed and highly paranoid (i.e. he imagines all possibilities in which he could be killed by Louis), is momentarily in charge of the suspect and ends up accidentally dying, leaving Louis with another great problem because, when the time comes, everything will point out that he’s also responsible for this death.
This scenario, as hilarious as it is intriguing, seems to direct Dupieux towards the thriller film, however, the director is never interested in fulfilling any kind of expectation or remaining within the limits of a genre. His previous movie, Reality, began with several plots -- most linked to the world of entertainment, like that of a director who’s looking for the best scream in the history of cinema -- to later become an attempt to represent on screen the inherent confusion to dreams.
Keep an Eye Out doesn’t forget his absurd madness (for example when we discover that commissioner Buron gets the cigarette smoke out from a hole near his stomach), nor its entanglement linked to the alleged murders, but it also transforms into something more: an exercise on how memory works, once Louis, in his effort to clarify his alibi, recapitulates what happened before discovering the first dead man.
A series of mundane activities is what's in Louis’ remembrance -- for example going out to breathe fresh air and then leaving his apartment again in search of his sleepwalker wife -- but Dupieux, as in Reality with dreams, here alters the memories, because now they have the influence of what the protagonist is living in the present; in this way adding one more layer to the film when, for example, in the memory of the alibi appears the wife of the one-eyed officer (Anaïs Demoustier).
In Keep an Eye Out there’s a hilarious film with a dose of suspense about a very hapless defendant, however it’s accompanied by an exercise on memory and even a strange and very literal reference to the theatricality related to shooting a large part of the film in a single location and relying only on the conversations between the actors. The mixture of elements, and the reaffirmation that Dupieux will always try to raise the volume of its eccentricity to 11, has some ups and downs, but as it happened in Reality, the best moments of the worthy Keep an Eye Out are absolutely brilliant.
Review originally published during the Sitges Film Festival in October 2018. The film opens in select U.S. theaters today via Dekanalog.
Keep an Eye Out
- Quentin Dupieux
- Quentin Dupieux
- Benoît Poelvoorde
- Grégoire Ludig
- Marc Fraize