April 19, 2013 in Features

‘Wrong’ portrays miserable man and, well, he remains miserable

Robert Levin McClatchy-Tribune
 

French writer-director Quentin Dupieux recently made a movie called “Rubber” about a homicidal tire, so all bets are off when it comes to his films. You expect a journey into surreal, deadpan territory.

In “Wrong,” the filmmaker-electronic musician offers what is essentially his avant-garde take on “Office Space.” It’s the story of an everyday drone named Dolph (Jack Plotnick) who is navigating the drudgery of modern existence after the disappearance of his beloved dog Paul.

In Dupieux’s world, this means strange encounters with the likes of an argumentative neighbor, a defiant cop, a pizza girl and a mysterious guru named Master Chang (William Fichtner). It means work in a cubicle hell where the ceiling sprinkler system perpetually soaks the employees. It means an alarm clock that turns from 7:59 to 7:60.

These burdens have turned Dolph into a whiny, slithering mess, a man barely clinging to the last threads of his sanity. But there’s no catharsis coming. The movie establishes its droll tone early on and maintains it throughout, without developing into anything more than an oddball portrait of characters defying socially acceptable behavior to make the protagonist’s life miserable.

There’s off-kilter style to spare: empty frames, heightened sterile imagery and mannered performances. But there’s nothing below the surface that we haven’t seen before.

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