Credit: Dekanalog
by Christopher Bourne Featured Film Horizon Line

Keep an Eye Out | Quentin Dupieux

March 16, 2021

Keep an Eye Out is a mere blip of a film, but for fans of Dupieux’s deadpan gonzo schtick, there are small pleasures to be found.

Electronic musician turned filmmaker Quentin Dupieux, in such films as Rubber, Wrong, Wrong Cops, and Deerskin (a particular highlight of his oeuvre), specializes in absurd scenarios that pile on their surrealism with casual, deadpan aplomb. This particular mode remains the case with Keep an Eye Out, Dupieux’s latest U.S. release (it came out abroad three years ago), a slight film in a number of ways, including its scant runtime of barely an hour, not counting its slow-crawling end credits. Still, it’s a pleasantly diverting romp, deriving considerable comic mileage from its burlesque of cop movie conventions.

The film’s puckish tone is established in its first scene: a man, clad only in a Speedo, conducts an outdoor orchestra before being chased off by police. It’s a scene that has nothing whatsoever to do with the main plot, which mostly concerns the interrogation of a man named Fugain (Grégoire Ludig) by police captain Buron (Benoît Poelvoorde) at a station that looks lifted directly from a ’70s cop film, complete with cluttered desks, dusty file cabinets, and harsh fluorescent lighting. Fugain discovered a dead body outside his apartment building and called it in to the police, but instead of being allowed to go about his business after giving a statement, he’s subjected to a lengthy interrogation by Buron, who suspects Fugain has more to do with this corpse than he’s letting on.

Dupieux’s signature is mostly found in Keep an Eye Out‘s flashback sequences— dramatizing Fugain’s recollections of the events surrounding his discovery — which are the source of much of the film’s comic surrealism. Buron and some of the other characters populating the police station insert themselves into these memories, questioning Fugain about future events. One of these characters is another cop (Marc Fraize) who’s referenced in the film’s punny English title, a police officer with only one eye who is asked by Buron to keep that single orb fixed on Fugain whenever Buron has to leave the station for awhile. Soon enough, there’ll be another dead body, more wacky characters, more tweaking of policier tropes. To paraphrase Casablanca, none of this really amounts to a hill of beans, but there are plenty worse and less pleasurable ways to while away 70-odd minutes.