With “Daaaaaalí!” », Quentin Dupieux offers a roller coaster ride

With “Daaaaaalí!” », Quentin Dupieux offers a roller coaster ride


Quentin Dupieux plays a trick on us with this new feature film, Daaaaaalí! , through scenes that fit together like a succession of dreams. We board a roller coaster: it takes us from a hotel suite, in which a young journalist, Judith (Anaïs Demoustier), is feverishly waiting to interview Salvador Dali (1904-1989), to others incredible meeting with the Catalan artist, who will never stop showing off.

Five actors, no less, play the painter with the incredible mustaches, Gilles Lellouche, Edouard Baer, Jonathan Cohen, Pio Marmaï and, finally, Didier Flamand, in an appearance by the artist with bleached hair. This multiple character adds to the confusion of the story, Dali growing older or younger from one shot to another, appearing to us sometimes with round, cyclonic eyes (Jonathan Cohen), sometimes with the furrowed forehead of the hurried and tyrannical man. (Edouard Baer), etc. A new face appears, another disappears, like a pop-up of representations.

But is all this real? The mechanics of dreams are activated by a priest character, Father Jacques (Eric Hegger), neighbor of the surrealist painter, who likes to tell him about his dreams while sleeping standing up, in the secret hope of inspiring the master and selling a painting at auction, for the benefit of the church.

Only one constant in this Daaaaaalí! : the feeling that the film is constantly escaping us, very quickly giving rise to a joyous state of abandonment. Here we are like a departing traveler, walking through the airport on a moving conveyor belt, the prospect of boarding the plane fading into the blue sky. And yet, Daaaaaalí! makes us “take off”, thanks to the tandem formed by this sheepish journalist and this demon in Catalan sandals, who snubs her and hangs up on her. Judith does not despair of convincing her idol to accept an exclusive interview, banking on her legendary ego and promising him wonders (a documentary for the cinema, with one, then two huge cameras…).

Ordinary People Partition

This is where the film truly reveals its game, deploying beyond the portrait a mise en abyme of the star system, with its abuses and its detestable personalities. The same goes for this perfectly mute producer played by Romain Duris, explaining to Judith how to go about coaxing Dali. You have to impress him, pamper him in a shoot full of professionals and assistants running everywhere, but Judith also has to show off, dress, do her hair differently. Besides, he tells her, “if you were sexier, I would probably want to put more money into your project” . In short, if she does not succeed in “hooking” the eccentric artist, figure of the surrealist movement, it is her fault. She is too serious, lacks madness…

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