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Division Division: ‘Wrong’

This Week's Most Divisive Movie

Every once in a while, surrealism seems to make a comeback. From David Lynch’s bizarre narratives and dream logic  to Charlie Kaufman’s postmodern stories to brief flirtations with the mainstream like “Groundhog Day,” one of the most interesting things
about surrealism has been the shifting use (and relative misuse) of
the term since the end of the movement. The latest director to
attract the label is Quentin
Dupieux (“Rubber”).

But definitions aside, those labels are
the only things that critics can agree on about Dupieux’s latest
film, “Wrong,” which is attracting
a wide range of reactions — from Jake Cole calling Dupieux a “glorified YouTube user” in his Movie Mezzanine review
to Andrew O’Hehir calling the film a “near-masterpiece” for
Salon.
But let’s see if we can pinpoint where these impassioned reactions are coming from. It’s sitting comfortably at a “B” average on our Criticwire Network, but this is an impassioned “B” if there ever was one.

PRO: This is a genuinely,
traditionally “surrealist” film.

“What
distinguishes Quentin Dupieux’s profoundly strange movie
‘Wrong’
is that it’s surrealist in the old-fashioned sense, the sense
employed by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali.”

Andrew
O’Hehir
,
Salon

CON: …but in a far less intelligent way.

To even call
what Dupieux does surrealism is to insult that artform’s inherent
sense of defiance, its rejection of boundaries of artistic and social
taste in expression radical thought.”

Jake Cole, Movie Mezzanine

PRO: It’s marked by a bold,
directorial voice.

Part of what
makes
‘Wrong so
invigorating is that it convinced me that Quentin Dupieux is a modern
day auteur. There’s just something about it that
screams Quentin Dupieux. Even if I hadn’t know that the man behind ‘Rubber’
 had
directed, written, shot, and edited ‘
Wrong,’ I would have realized it immediately.”Alec Kubas-Meyer,
Flixist

CON: …but it doesn’t show anything new or
versatile.

I’m a
sucker for humor of the weird and it hit me just right — but it
also feels like Dupieux may be painting himself into a corner if he
doesn’t try something drastically different next time.”

Luke Y. Thompson, Nerdist

PRO: In all
likelihood, there is a good deal to take away from “Wrong.”

We
do, however, learn a lot about human relationships with animals and
how you dont know what you have until its gone…

Don Simpson, Smells Like Screen Spirit

CON: …or maybe there isn’t.

“…or,
maybe we dont learn about any of that at all Why should we
learn anything? No reason.
Don
Simpson
, Smells Like Screen Spirit

PRO: The acting.

One
thing is for sure, William Fichtner has never been better.
His performance, all too brief sadly, as Master Chang is so odd
and amazing you just cant take your eyes off him. Fichtner kills
the role of the reserved Master Chang and steals every scene.
Marc
Ciafardini
, Go See Talk

CON:
The
characters.

“‘Wrong’
is perilously close to being a parody of an experimental,
faux-Lynchian arthouse film, full of elliptical, meaningless
character motivations and dialogue, amounting to nothing.
Josh
Spiegel
, Sound On Sight

PRO:
Despite its initial appearance, it’s
undeniably
original.

What
I loved about the film was that it takes so many film cliches and
doesn’t mock them, but presents them in a whole new way.
Melissa
Hanson,
 Cinemit

CON: …but that originality only illuminates artistic limitations.

Dupieuxs
inventiveness is undeniable. But I finished the movie with a new
quiver of doubts about the possibilities of Surrealism, and renewed
conviction that its limits are what caused it to pass out of
fashion.
 
Matt
Brennan
, Thompson On Hollywood

So
yes, this work is, by almost all accounts, surreal. But does it
use the aesthetic in a new, powerful way, or is it just a rehash? It’s up to you to decide if it
works, in both concept and execution.

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