Directed by Bruno Dumont
Summer, 1910. Inspectors Machin and Malfoy investigate the mysterious disappearances of several tourists on the beautiful beaches of Slack Bay, where a strange community of fishermen lives.
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★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
Never seen so many tumbles taken in a single film. Juliette Binoche does hysterical better than anyone.
★★★½ review by Lawrence Garcia on Letterboxd
Picturesque, storybook landscapes and colors, bumbling caricatures and cartoonish exaggeration wedded to some all-around grotesquerie. (The first meal at Ma Loute's house is just stomach-churning.) Skewers everything in sight: the inbred bourgeoisie for whom everything is "sublime" and "perfection," the seaman described as "an incarnation of pure beauty"; the cannibalistic rural folk who set themselves against the Other (in more ways than one); even Dumont's own ouevre, which he seems to be working through. Grimness is papered over by sprightly textures and rhythms, the "mystery" solved within the first fifteen minutes, but used as a pretext to move forward, the balloon-like inspector - whom one expects to fly off at any moment - treating the entire affair as completely inscrutable, which seems like a comment on arthouse films in general. Madcap inventiveness, astonishing physicality, flawless compositions, and a kind of Buñuelian sense of play, centered around the picturesque bay, which functions a bit like the lake in Stranger by the Lake, a space about which fear, desire, class, etc. are allowed to gain their fullest expression. (There's also Juliette Binoche with enough capital-A acting to fill a dozen movies.) Emotional throughline is the major flaw; it's present, but too thinly sketched to really take hold, so the belated turn towards the end, elements such as Billie's shifting gender representation (and Ma Loute's violence), and that triangulated final shot don't quite land as they should. Comedy is a bit uneven, and the overall impression a bit shambling since the insanity feels more unmoored. But there are still great moments like the cut to the lovers cast out to sea, the deep blue a striking change from the bright pastels of the previous hour, or a the sand-yachting sequence that runs into a shipwreck. "Yes, we all have amazing references!" says Binoche towards the end; and then the inspector floats off, the rope around his ankle slipping from his assistant's grasp (an oblique nod to 8½?). Arguably all hot air, but it certainly isn't boring. "A total mystery... In that case, there's nothing we can do."
★★★★½ review by Audham EnTha on Letterboxd
Completely over the top and bizarre. I LOVED this movie!
Not sure to whom I could recommend it tho... I'm sure a lot of people will find the acting atrocious and will probably get tired of the slapstick humor after 5 min.
Personnally, I thought it was hilarious, uncompromising and so unique.
Lovely cinematography and production, wonderful cast (Raph is a revelation) and a delightful script.
Both Fabrice Luchini and Juliette Binoche are national treasures.
Worth checking for fans of weird comedies like Jeunet's Delicatessen or Kusturica's Black Cat White Cat.
★★★★ review by metalmeatwad on Letterboxd
🎈 My favorite cannibalistic class-war slapstick romantic farce.🎈
Delivers a pretty damning social statement between eating the rich and gender identity.
★★★½ review by Blake Williams on Letterboxd
"Slack Bay takes off from Quinquin‘s broadly comic sensibility and proceeds to make an overt, blistering mockery of both French nobility and Dumont’s own oeuvre. Besides the wealthy, unspared are the blissful, conventionally fugly yokels that populate most of his other films, as well as the investigator character who originated in L’Humanité (1999), as well as that film’s (in)famous levitation miracle — appearing here first as homage, then as looney tune parody. So crude, so flagrant are Dumont’s presentations of his caricatures here that the amusement factor can fade, but it yields to a discomfiting, heightened space, away from reality, where his trademark realist austerity becomes glossed up and abstract; the humor persists, but its pleasures steer away from the realm of guffaws."
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