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Film / Mandibles (2021)

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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 another 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.
  • Cassandra Truth: Agnès says that she saw a giant fly in the room of Jean-Gab, but nobody believes her. She is thought to be crazy and even gets the blame for the missing little dog.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: Cécile is convinced that Manu is Fred, her ex-boyfriend, until the real Fred shows up.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Cécile mistakes Manu for Fred, a boyfriend whom she has not seen since high school. The real Fred meets her by chance the next day.
  • Go Among Mad People: Agnès is thought to be crazy because she says that she saw a giant fly. Moreover, she is thought to have devoured the little dog. So she is brought to a psychiatric hospital in an ambulance.
  • Identical Stranger: Manu and Fred look very similar. They are both played by the same actor, Grégoire Ludig.
  • Mistaken Identity: Cécile 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.
  • Running Gag: Manu ends up sleeping outside in a wet place.
  • 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.
  • Spotting the Thread: Manu and Fred look very similar (they are played by the same actor) and Manu can easily impersonate Fred, until Cécile notices that he does not have Fred's distinctive tattoo on the thigh. Manu explains that he removed it and Cécile buys the story.
  • Surreal Humor: This is a comedy about two friends trying to tame a giant fly that they found in the trunk of a car.
  • 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).