News from the Locarno Festival

No Country for Supercops

No Country for Supercops



In Quentin Dupieux’s previous English language film Wrong, presented last year on the Piazza Grande, American newcomer Mark Burnham made a lasting impression as an unpleasant and unhelpful police officer. The filmmaker enjoyed this supporting role so much that he decided to write a whole new film around the character, unleashing him and his equally undignified colleagues on an offensive but hilarious rampage.

Wrong Cops was thus conceived as a showcase for its cast, which includes singer Marilyn Manson and Dupieux regular Éric Judor. Obviously working on a base of trust and communicative playfulness, the filmmaker released his actors’ comedic potential in his now recognizable world, one that abounds with absurd humor, ferocious verbal abuse and… uninhibited self-referencing.

The trampling of heroic codes associated with the supercop figure is nothing new: Werner Herzog recently revisited a certain disreputable lieutenant, flavoring him with a personal touch of hallucinatory grandeur. But the French troublemaker generalizes this decadent streak to the entire profession, almost designating moral depravation as a condition to join the force. With more concern for fun than for any sort of correctness, he goes all the way.
Showing little interest for pity, Dupieux grants no character an excuse: from a nosy child to a disabled preachy intruder, all must face the consequences of the friction they initiate with others. Occasional mundane reactions to disturbing circumstances, only but underline the bizarre.

In a time when the bulk of film production abides by industry standards, and formatted comedies fail to pull audiences out of their comfort zone, Quentin Dupieux’s audacious twisting of expectations in all the realms of filmmaking, and his untrammeled freedom and ingenuity appear, again, as a welcome electroshock.

Aurélie Godet

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