Review: Toronto After Dark Film Festival – Wrong
It might be the perception that it’s only horror films at Toronto After Dark Film Festival, a notion that may hinder (or help) ticket sales. For those who might believe it is only frights at this fest (and possibly not purchase tickets) then audiences are missing out on the gems this festival has to provide. The films at TAD range from action to thriller, but they all stay aptly dark to satisfy festival goers particular penchant for the alternative. While many of the films will find their own audience, it is one film in particular which will find a place with those who prefer the bizarre a little more… Lynchian.
From director/writer/composer/musician Quentin Dupieux, who brought us the notoriously disappointing Rubber, comes a new film of equal absurdity, yet is undeniably entertaining. A detective story wrapped in layer upon layer of bizarre occurrences, the curiously titled Wrong was a personal favorite at this years Toronto After Dark festival.
Wrong begins as the main character Dolph Springer (Jack Plotnick, who may be known for his voice work as Xandir P. Whifflebottom in the crude Drawn Together series) awakens at 7:60am (yes, thats’ right) to find that his dog Paul has gone missing. This sets off Dolph on a hunt to find where his dog could have gone to, all the while having strange interactions with those around him. A palm tree disappears. A pizza shop employee (Alexis Dziena of Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist) falls in love with him over the phone. There is a murder, a rainy office and a spiritual guru (William Fichtner) who convinces Dolph of his telepathic connection with his dog. Will Dolph ever be reunited with his beloved companion, or be able to put his life back together? Well, watching this movie to find out is all the fun.
While this might not make much sense, that is exactly what watching Wrong is like, and what makes it so enjoyable. It is bizarre and quirky, and the story moves along well, never once lingering on anything for longer than it needs to. Everything that happens or that is seen in this film has some sort of purpose, although we the audience may never know what that is, but that is part of its surreal charm. It never comes across as pretentious, yet it is clever and smart all the same. Dupieux has finally proven to movie goers that he is capable of a film that is bizarre and actually good at the same time.
The humour isn’t subtle here, but it is clever. Dupieux wants his audience to laugh when appropriate, and there are plenty of laughs to be had at the utterly bizarre happenings. One character in particular who provided many laughs is the spiritual guru Master Chang (Fichnter) who is assisting (along with a hired detective) Dolph in finding his dog. William Fichtner plays his role superbly well, he is both comedic, serious, troubled and enjoyable to watch. It is also worth the mention that everyone involved played their parts astoundingly straight-faced, not an easy task given the nature of the source material.
The electronic soundtrack comes from Dupieux’s other endeavors and where he may be more widely known as Mr. Oizo. His music is a wonderful compliment to the film, it is simple yet engaging and appropriately light. Most (if not all) of these scenes in the film occur during the day when the sun is shining bright and the colours are beautiful, invoking not the cool and dark detective mysteries we are used to, but a new and fresh feel for the genre. Where others may have gone dark in their settings, what Wrong has are sunny beaches, palm trees and serene forests.
Wrong might have you scratching your head and wondering why, but it will also leave you wanting more. Quentin Dupieux has found his way with this film and if Rubber was his experimental phase, then Wrong has helped him to find his footing in the film world.
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