Modern day absurdist cinema pioneer Quentin Dupieux has returned with a straight-laced parody that might surprise you in its mildness. It’s a cop comedy entitled Keep an Eye Out, which takes place over the course of a single night inside of a beautifully realized ’70s police station. Fugain (Grégoire Ludig), a normal and mild-mannered dude, discovers a corpse outside of his apartment building one cold night and calls the police. He’s turned into the cops by a neighbor who suspects him of the crime, and he’s assigned an interrogator in the form of Chief Inspector Buron (Man Bites Dog‘s Benoit Poelvoorde), who doesn’t care how long it’ll take to get the job done. After some initial questioning, he’s left alone with an one-eyed assistant (Marc Fraize), and a terrible accident occurs, for which Fugain will be blamed if it’s discovered. So, the interrogation proceeds, with increasing tension and absurdity, until it reaches an unforgettable conclusion.
Formerly a musician, Dupieux’s best known around these parts for the odd and silly thriller Rubber, in which a sentient tire goes Scanners on a series of small town cops, and his nutcase comedies Wrong and Wrong Cops, and it’s difficult to explain how much of a departure Keep an Eye Out is from his previous work without having seen it. There’s little shock value in any of the gags, aside from one gory moment early on, and most of the humor comes from Dupieux’s beautiful embrace of lunacy. He builds this very straight-laced and believable world and begins to collapse it in on itself which, to wit, no character in the ensemble is spared from.
There’s very amusing moments involving both cigarette smoke and oyster shells, and the entire cast seems to understand Dupieux’s sensibilities. It also knows not to overstay its welcome, running a scant 73 minutes, yet it makes an impact with each passing second. So while Keep an Eye Out may not be as flashy as Dupieux’s previous work, it’s still a very fun time and a skilled parody that is effective no matter your knowledge of its genre.