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Smoking Causes Coughing ★★★★



Director: Quentin Dupieux

Cast: Gilles Lellouche, Vincent Lacoste, Anaïs Demoustier, Adèle Exarchopoulos

Release Date: 31st March 2023

Quentin Dupieux is a visionary of lo-fi storytelling, creating what is unimaginable and making it a reality. His recent genre jaunts from Mandibles to Incredible but True have all been meaningful, humorous and otherworldly. Dupieux’s recent work’s joys are a short but sweet motif without mulling around and stretching the narrative to a pointless cesspool of schlock.

His latest film, Smoking Causes Coughing, brings his imaginative mastery to audiences again. The film follows the Tobacco Force, a superhero quintet fighting evil by using cigarette cancer-causing substances as their weapon of choice. But their super rat Chief Didier has noticed friction in the team. Since an upcoming battle against evil conqueror Lezardin is on the horizon, Didier sends them to a lake retreat for a team-building holiday, where they tell each other scary campfire tales. Will they form a cohesive unit again for the final epic face-off?

The sheer absurdism from Dupieux is off the rector scale. There is a prominent sense of audacity that flows within Smoking Causes Coughing. You are thrown into this bizarre scenario and must go with the flow. The two narratives that divide the film bring so much life into this. Witnessing the Tobacco Force re-connecting as a team, the side plot is filled with many WTF moments. Like any film from Dupieux, you can’t guess what will happen next. There is always a lot of anticipation with his movies; there is a different sense of extremities here, which is refreshing to see.

There is a nostalgic pull within the Power Ranger-esk motif of it all. The heroes work together to take down the world’s evil, but here we understand more about what motivates them and what has caused the rift. Simply watching them beat the crap out of a man in a monster suit and then witness an explosion of guts and blood is an easy, crowd-pleasing moment. Dupieux channels so much energy into his creative hubris that seeing these nostalgia-inducing moments grabs you.

Utilising a short runtime is one of Dupieux’s strengths, and within this clusterfuck of hilarity, you get the right amount of whimsical humour. His cast ensemble digs into the dialogue and flourishes within the subvariety of Dupieux’s storytelling. To see scenes like the wood-chipper moment demonstrate how he can hone his craft and maintain such artistic integrity without people not fully connecting with his idealisms. Smoking Causes Coughing is one of Quentin Dupieux’s finest films; it has everything from saliva-creating rat bosses to talking pools of blood and guts.

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

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