11 March 2021

Bruno Dumont's P'tit Quinquin : Episode 4 : Allah Akbar ! (2014)

Mohamed goes mad and shoots at everything that moves, while Van der Weyden tries to figure out how to get him. He's shot dead anyway, so the cop carries him out. More murders will follow, but that's hardly the point as we'll never know the reason for them, and in any case the crimes seem subsidiary to what this is really about.

But what is it really about? Certainly Dumont wanted to diversify into comedy, and he gives us slapstick, burlesque, even verging on the surreal. Van der Weyden is forever twitching nervously, Carpentier is a sans-dents with a bizarre way of starting the police car off, Danny can't walk straight and keeps falling down, the children seem to be the only ones with intelligence, but the racism expressed here isn't in any way funny, is it? Isn't this film, or series of films,  expressing the age-old sterotypes about the chtimis?

Well, no it's not at all: Dumont was born in Bailleul, so was born in the north-east he so often features in his films: far from revealing a prejudice against the chtimis, this is a caricature of a caricature of the Nord. The slovenliness, the lack of culture, the ludicrous dinner service thrown rather than placed out, the racism, the (inbred, is it suggested?) idiocy, all these things and more are satirical exaggerations of how outsiders view the Nord.

P'tit Quinquin is a delightful satire on what outsiders are said to see of the Nord, which is noticable right from the beginning when the titles roll to Alexandre Desrousseaux's nineteenth-century song of P'tit Quinquin, the Marseillaise of the Nord: the whole film is an insane love story to the Nord.

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