Homeless and sleeping on the beach, oblivious to the tide rolling in and lapping at his feet, Manu is offered what should be easy money; all he is required to do is pick up a suitcase, keep it concealed from prying eyes, and deliver it. How can he mess up so simple a task?
Stealing an abandoned car – because, of course – Manu first picks up his equally unmotivated friend Jean-Gab but on their way to collect the consignment they are alarmed by noises from within the trunk. Opening it, they find a giant housefly and decide rather than completing the task at hand to instead train it to rob banks for them.
A road trip which parallels his previous obsession with Deerskin, writer/director Quentin Dupieux returns with Mandibles (Mandibules), a tale of two men and their monstrous pet fly “Dominique,” incapable of facial expression yet apparently judging them, fed on stolen cat food and sleeping in a stolen caravan.
Every decision in response to their latest self-created crisis the first thing which crosses their mind, a chance encounter with holidaying friends Cécile, Agnès, Sandrine and Serge and a case of mistaken identity which Manu is all too happy to take advantage of giving them luxurious shelter which, half-witted and incapable of forward planning, they treat with disdain.
The cast led by French comedy duo Grégoire Ludig and David Marsais of Palmashow, Mandibles is unlikely to fly far on their dubious bumbling parochial charm, nor the supporting role of Belgian rapper Roméo Elvis as Serge, with only Adèle Exarchopoulos genuinely funny as Agnès, cognitively impaired following a skiing accident and uninhibited from speaking her mind.
Burning bridges and caravans wherever they go, Manu and Jean-Gab can only go forwards, yet with no destination Mandibles feels directionless, destined to become a sideshow attraction akin to Dominique rather than a headliner act, perhaps better as a short rather than a feature film.