Watching a Quentin Dupieux film is always an adventure – albeit a quirky, absurd, and existential adventure. Most of the time you have absolutely no idea what’s going on, but for some reason you keep watching in an almost hypnotic state as your eyes are inexplicably glued to the screen. That’s exactly how I watched Rubber, taking in every visually confusing segment one by one which eventually created a mind-blowing final revelation come the epic conclusion (think of it as a really f*cked up jigsaw puzzle), and that’s the exact same experience one can expect from Wrong.
On the surface, Wrong is about a man named Dolph (Jack Plotnick) whose dog, Paul, has gone missing. There are no clues, no signs, and no information as to where Paul could be, but Dolph is deeply disturbed by the disappearance of his dog. As more time goes by and Dolph becomes increasingly more worried, he starts to meet a slew of eccentric characters who both help and hurt his situation.
There’s a pizza-girl nymphomaniac (Alexis Dziena), a confusing French-Mexican gardener (Eric Judor), a questionably competent pet detective (Steve Little), a neighbor seeking a completeness (Regan Burns), yet somehow Dolph manages to encounter even stranger people than those mentioned as he starts to uncover more and more details. To put it simply – shit gets weird.
Admittedly, my strange sense of humor was very satisfied with what most would consider a random collection of gags and oddball jokes, but if you’re a viewer who needs explanations and definitive answers, Wrong is absolutely not the film for you. Half the scenes Dupieux presents are like little individual abstract pieces of art either in delivery or subject matter, where suddenly you’ll realize you’re watching a scene that was shot backwards and is being shown in reverse or you’ll find yourself wondering why it’s raining inside of a building only to have that detail completely ignored and treated as normal. Everything has a meaning, and Dupieux actually does plan his films out with the whole package in mind, but conventional wisdom and spoon feeding are simply two things our director doesn’t care for. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
With such wonderfully bizarre characters come some great performances though, especially from star Jack Plotnick as Dolph.
Quentin Tarantino once said actors Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson fit his film universe perfectly with their acting styles, and even though he may not write a part for them specifically, once he’s finished crafting a personality on paper, it somehow is made for them. Between mannerisms and talent, they always end up in his films time and time again, even if he tries not to do so purposely.
I believe the same scenario has fleshed itself out between director Quentin Dupieux and actor Jack Plotnick after teaming for both Rubber and Wrong, as Plotnick has become this neurotic wonder who fits Quentin’s topsy-turvey world so beautifully. As each interaction and each event in Dolph’s life becomes more and more surreal, Plotnick conveys hilarious confusion and crafts his reactions in a way which almost makes Wrong‘s world feel real, only to snap back out of reality with something as simple as a clock turning from 7:59 to 7:60. Plotnick has found a director with whom he can connect with professionally on a highly effective wavelength, and Wrong proves this fact thanks to Jack’s winning leading-man qualities.
Aside from Plotnick, familiar faces like William Fichtner (The Dark Knight/Armageddon) and Steve Little (Eastbound & Down) pop up for some equally strange additions, with Little finding more success. It’s not that I didn’t like Fichtner, but his obvious attempts to create humor through a silly accent and equally silly dialogue were lost in the realm of “too overly deadpan to actually deliver,” while Little on the other hand playing a bumbling pet detective is responsible for my favorite scene found in Wrong as he makes his final grand revelation using some of Paul’s poo.
Shout outs to Alexis Dziena (Entourage) and Eric Judor (mainly French films) as well for their roles as a forceful romantic and Dolph’s gardener respectively, with Judor earning some huge laughs for his questionable gardening work. The comedy Dupieux and Judor create just from the simple task of taking care of a palm tree is astonishing, especially when you throw Plotnick in the mix, discussing landscaping and life problems with his gardener.
Here’s my final bit of advice – don’t watch Wrong unless you’re absolutely ready for something challenging and extremely different, don’t turn the film off in a fit of pre-judgmental confusion, and seriously open your mind to what Dupieux is actually saying with this story of lost love. I promise there is intelligent design and continual flow which keeps Dolph’s predicament relevant and meaningful, but you have to be willing to search for it. If you’re not in the mood to do so, there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll find yourself cursing Quentin Dupieux’s name for being some no-talent hack who thinks he’s way more clever than he actually is.
While this couldn’t be farther from the truth, if you’re one of those more mainstream loving cinema fans, don’t bother wasting your time. Wrong is equivalent to a double black diamond trail down the toughest mountain, so those who haven’t even conquered the bunny hill will be left bruised and battered after tumbling head-first down a superior foe which takes pleasure in putting novice adventurers in their place.
But me? I’m a huge fan of Quentin’s work on Rubber, and going along with that same absurdist cinema, Wrong does anything but disappoint. There’s something very Michel Gondry-esque in his bizarre attention to detail that makes Wrong a wildly hilarious series of unfortunate events that defy rationale in the best of ways. While I personally like the meta story behind Rubber a little more, Wrong still delivered Dupieux’s unique style in spades, along with a monstrously strong performance from Jack Plotnick. Wrong is unapologetic art-house type cinema that displays everything Quentin does best, and is just another impressive reason proving why we need creators like Quentin Dupieux in today’s Hollywood scene.