Nothing forces any movie to be bound to the laws of reality. Part of what makes film such an incredible medium is that a story can be told in any way, shape or form. Most stories are set their work in the real world – or at least something somewhat resembling the real world – because it allows audiences to better relate to and understand what’s happening on screen. But reality isn’t a concern of writer/director Quentin Dupieux. Instead, the French filmmaker establishes his own rules and his own world where audiences have to be mentally prepared for the possibility that at any moment a house painter will show up and give a character’s car a fresh coat, or a palm tree will somehow turn into a pine. This is the way that his latest film, Wrong, operates, and it’s an absolute marvel.
On its most surface level, the movie tells the story of an “ordinary” man named Dolph Springer (Jack Plotnick) who wakes up one morning to discover that his beloved dog Paul has gone missing, but really the film is an experiment that tests the boundaries of weird in every way imaginable. From the opening shot, which features a fireman casually pooping in the middle of the street and reading a newspaper while a white van bursts into flames behind him, the story takes moviegoers on a strange journey through a strange land that ranges from head-scratchingly confusing to laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Wrong is an impressive piece of filmmaking not just because of the way in which captures the absurd, but in how it’s able to maintain it for the entire runtime. Watching the film you worry that at some point it will hit some kind of threshold where the weird just becomes monotonous and boring, but that point never actually comes. Instead, it simply becomes more and more fascinating as you wait for the next bizarre left turn to be made (and it always comes as a surprise). The film doesn’t so much escalate as develops, constantly building a world where anything can happen and does.
To tell his strange story, Dupieux has assembled a great group of character actors, all of whom naturally fit in the weird world of Wrong-- in fact, they look all too comfortable within it (and that’s very much a good thing). As the lead, Plotnick has the hardest job in the movie, as he has to both play the role of the straight man while also avoiding feeling out of place, and he does so with aplomb. The audience is fully able to connect with his confusion about the plot that he’s been dropped into, but at the same time have no trouble believing that he wakes up to his alarm clock at 7:60 every day and shows up to a workplace where it’s constantly raining indoors. Of the supporting cast, William Fichtner is a standout, playing an oddball named Master Chang who burned half of his face off as a child to impress a friend (a decision he, understandably, regrets), but really there is no weak link in the chain. All of the actors, from Alexis Dziena (as an employee of Jesus Organic Pizza) to Steve Little (as a detective who is able to generate video from dog feces), are the perfect level of oddball and wonderfully contribute to the madness.
There’s no question that Wrong isn’t a movie for everyone, and there will surely be some who will have to tap out within the first ten minutes, but I’d urge anyone to at least try and take the ride. At the very least you’ll have a title to name-drop whenever you get into a conversation about the weirdest film you’ve ever seen.