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Daaaaaali! ★★★★★



Director: Quentin Dupieux

Cast: Anaïs Demoustier, Gilles Lellouche, Edouard Baer, Jonathan Cohen

Release: London Film Festival 2023

Paying homage to any larger-than-life artist is never easy, especially if their name is Salvador Dalí. He was one of the most influential artists of the last century; even if you can’t name a painting by the man, you’d remember his characteristic pointed moustache, melting clocks and eccentric aura.

Step in Quentin Dupieux, whose surrealist works almost feel Dalí-esk. The filmmaker, known for his short runtimes, eccentric stories, and unique style, has now taken on the feet of paying tribute to Dalí and in more ways than one, this is a match made in heaven. His film is titled Daaaaaali! (chefs kiss) follows a French journalist who meets the iconic surrealist artist Salvador Dalí on several occasions for a documentary project that never came to be.

Daaaaaali! is a beautiful surrealist meta-comedy that uniquely explores the great master. In this short but sweet masterpiece from Dupieux, you are challenged to embrace the strange. The film opens with Anaïs Demoustier’s character waiting in a hotel room to meet the maestro; once the larger-than-life aura of Dalí exits the elevator, we suddenly realise there is more than meets the eye here from Dupieux (but that’s expected from the man that brought us Deerskin), there is a humourous sense of endlessness to Dalí’s arrival, and this helps set the tone of the film. Indeed, this narrative is an odyssey into the mind of Dalí as Dupieux explores the different faces of the man.

We encounter different Dalí’s throughout, and at times, it feels seamless as they change to Dupieux’s credit. All the actors embody the essence of Dalí, and oddly enough, all sound the same. Age was nothing to the artists, and you can sense that throughout. Even as he got older, he was always the same. What makes this experience even more whimsical is the inclusion of an elongated dream sequence, and to explain it would spoil the fun. As we go in and out of the dream scenario, we are treated to striking images that feel like Dalí paintings. There is remarkable detail to Daaaaaali!, along with some beautiful homages to him. The vivid blues of his work set the colourful tone of the film.

There is a beautiful sense of equilibrium between cast and creative here. Edouard Baer and Jonathan Cohen’s interpretations of Salvador Dalí stand out. They fit the bill as Dupieux players, but you can feel their commitment to the performance. Each elongated syllable, each strut down the road and each long monologue brings the great man back to life. Praise must also be given to Anaïs Demoustier’s young journalist, as she is our eyes into this surrealist vision. She is a fan of the man’s work, and speaking to him is an honour. As he comes to the end of his career, she is at the beginning, giving an excellent sense of sentimentality to this humourous piece.

As the film comes to an end, we don’t learn any new pieces of information about Dalí, but Dupieux makes you remember one of history’s most memorable characters. The two artists feel almost like kindred spirits, making Daaaaaali! not only one of the best comedies of the year but one of the best films of the year.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

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