Fumer fait tousser
starring Anaïs Demoustier, Gilles Lellouche, Jean-Pascal Zadi, Oulaya Amamra
written and directed by Quentin Dupieux
by Walter Chaw French provocateur Quentin Dupieux's eleventh film Smoking Causes Coughing is an anthology picture organized around a framing device in which five costumed idiots forced to go on a team-building retreat tell each other horrifying tales around a campfire. I've been decidedly lukewarm on Dupieux's films. They're the very definition of an acquired taste, and I suspect they're hit-or-miss even if you're dialled into their frequency. His best-known film is probably Rubber (2010), a creature-feature about a car tire that causes folks' heads to explode using "telepathy." That's the punchline to the long setup of a tire rolling around to tense music, which Dupieux punctuates with dialogue that's knowingly campy, dedicatedly stupid, and ramped up with vein-bulging sincerity. It's the kind of conceit that attracts viewers who like to laugh at movies. I think Dupieux's sense of humour relies a lot on exaggeration and repetition, with the former landing like grossly performative sarcasm and the latter like the most irritating person you know milking a joke until the doggedness itself becomes the joke. For the most part, Dupieux's movies don't think much of the genres they're mocking and, by extension, they don't think much of the audiences for them, either.