Mandibles (French: Mandibules) is a 2021note French-Belgian comedy directed by Quentin Dupieux.
Manu (Grégoire Ludig) is a simple-minded, homeless man who is offered a shady but profitable job: he has to deliver a package and not ask what is inside. He steals a car and takes his best friend Jean-Gab (David Marsais) with him. On their way they find a giant fly (a puppet animated by Dave Chapman) and decide to tame it in order to "earn" money (they make vague plans about the giant fly stealing for them).
As usual with Dupieux, this film is quite absurd and many things seem to happen for no reason.
This film provides examples of:
- The Alleged Car: The car that Manu steals is an old Mercedes. Everyone but him looks down on it, and the trunk becomes stuck closed the second time he attempts to open it.
- Artistic License Cars: At some point the old car doesn't start because it is out of gasnote . Later Manu and Jean-Gab connect it to an other car's tank using a pipe, start it and then drive away in a few seconds. So lack of gas is treated like a low battery.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Agnès (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a woman who acts strangely and always shouts. Her friends say this is her normal way of talking since she hit her head in an accident.
- Cassandra Truth: Poor Agnes gets the blame when the fly ends up eating a dog
- Mistaken Identity: A woman mistakes Manu for an ex boyfriend and invites the protagonists to her parents' place where she is spending a summer vacation with her brother and two friends. Manu plays along in order to get free food.
- Police Are Useless: Played with. Manu does very illegal things (assault, armed robbery, illegal use of a weapon) and police never seem to look for him. On the other hand no one is ever shown complaining to them. Late in the film they actually do something unrelated to Manu's crimes, in a very incompetent manner.
- Secret Handshake: Manu and Jean-Gab do a simple one very often, saying "taureau"note while hitting each other's hand, whenever they greet or congratulate. Late in the film they are asked to explain it and are very awkward about it. Dupieux used this trope before in Steak.
- Shout-Out: Jean-Gab may be named after Jean Gabin.
- Special Person, Normal Name: The delivery job consists in taking a package from a wealthy man named Michel Michel (while Michel is a common name, being named Michel Michel sounds silly) to an other wealthy man who is not named.
- Tap on the Head: Manu knocks a man unconscious and treats his body in a very dangerous manner. A few minutes later he seems to be fine.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Early in the film Manu and Jean-Gab assault a man and take things from him. He escapes from them, but apparently never complains to the police since they never run into them. (Of course he may be dead from an earlier Tap on the Head).