The filmmaker named Quentin Dupieux, also known as the musician named Mr. Oizo, is best known for Rubber, a low-budget movie about a tire that comes to life and discovers psychokinetic powers that it proceeds to use for evil. But beyond that, the movie is also a self-commentary on the oddness of such a movie existing and the reasons (or lack thereof) why characters do what they do onscreen.
His newest film, Wrong, is initially about a lost dog, but it's also about the things we take for granted, however weird they may look to others. In a world where it rains indoors and palm trees magically turn into pines, it's more mundane things like an absent pet that become truly disturbing.
It's a tough one to describe in a brief introduction. Hence the need for a longer conversation with the man behind it.
Luke Y. Thompson: I loved both this and Rubber, and I feel like there's almost an opposite theme going on between them. In Rubber, it was all about how there was no reason for anything, and in this one, it feels like there is a reason for everything you don't think about, but it's a really weird one. Am I off base, or was that something you had in mind?
Quentin Dupieux: No, that was not in my mind, but I think it's quite a good way to approach this movie. Basically when you do something, and you're happy with it, you really need to do something different. So probably, yes, because I was really pleased with Rubber, I needed to do something very different.
LYT: Is it more of an intuitive process for you? Is it like you feel what feels right for the story, rather than really thinking intellectually about what something is? More of an emotional than an intellectual process of creativity?
QD: Yeah. I know I'm writing consumed with what I'm not thinking. It's like painting. I feel it. It's also like music. Sometimes you just feel it, and you know it is right. You don't know why. I'm not trying to be clever, I'm not trying to think too much, because that's not my thing.
LYT: Is that hard to convey to actors who sometimes want to know everything about their motivation?
QD: Not really, because I think the script was quite clear, and when you read it and you like it, I think you don't even need to answer those questions. So my approach is to be simple when we're filming. We, of course, consider everything as being real life, so basically it's very simple. Dolph, he's missing his dog, so he has to be sad. Even if everything is weird and twisted and a little disturbing, that's the main thing for him. The same goes for every actor, every director. You just read the script, just like it was real life.
LYT: You have a lot of comedic actors dead-panning in your movies. Do they like to improvise a lot? Do you give them that sort of leeway, or is it pretty close to what you originally wrote?
QD: No, basically with the tone of my movies, you have to respect the script. So it is per written, and we don't improvise, because I think that's not the point. But of course, improvising means a lot of things. What I mean is, we don't change the script, we don't change the lines, but of course then some actors always bring something different, you know? So yes, I guess there are a few little beats of improvisation, but it's not about changing the movie itself.
LYT: Are you a dog person? Do you have a dog that you love?
QD: No. I used to, a long time ago when I was a kid. I love dogs, and I enjoy watching dogs everywhere, especially here in L.A., there are dogs everywhere. But I don't have the patience to own a dog and I don't feel like taking care of the small thing, always asking for something. But I totally understand the relationship between the human and dogs. I really think dogs are great, and also funny to watch.
LYT: In the scenes where he's trying to make the psychic connection to the dog, I know a lot of people feel like they have that with their pets. I was wondering if you had ever felt that yourself or seen it in others in real life?
QD: I've never really heard that. That's funny!
LYT: When you have the girl move in with him and is always yelling at him irrelevant stuff while he's trying to do that, you really hit on the anxiety that men have about having their girlfriends move in too soon. Was that a conscious choice?
QD: I knew I was writing something about this, but it's not something that I've been through. It was more to push the absurdity, like she thinks the two guys are the same. She's already in love; push the absurdity even more, I guess I needed to make her move in and change the house and go crazy. It was just like a comedy choice.