10 March 2021

Bruno Dumont's P'tit Quinquin : Episode 1 : L'Bêt'humaine (2014)

Standing on the lip of a bunker near a Boulonnais beach, Carpentier (Philippe Jore), assistant to chief of police Van der Weyden (Bernard Pruvost) standing next to him, thinks of Zola's La Bête humaine: a helicopter has salvaged a cow whose remains contain human flesh: a human has been cut into pieces and stuffed in the animal. No laughing matter, although Bruno Dumont turns this first episode of the four-part TV mini-series into a black comedy. Van de Weyden remarks that they haven't found the head as they drive off and the audience sees the head on a patch of grass nearby, and shortly after Le Courier du Nord annonces that Mr Lebleu is grieving after his wife's head has been found.

Most of the action takes place in a village nearby, where's there's a band of mischievous of kids from the farms, bored in the school holidays, and led by ten-year-old P'tit Quinquin (Alane Delahaye) joined by his girlfriend Eve Terrier (Lucy Caron), with Kevin (Julien Bodard) and Jordan (Corentin Carpentier).

Mme Lebleu's funeral ceremony is hilarious. P'tit Quinquin plays it serious, but the two priests joke with each other kneeing down behind the altar, and Aurélie Terrier (Lisa Hartmann) screechily sings in English: 'Cause I Knew'. I can understand why people have enjoyed this so much.

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