Keep An Eye Out (Au poste!) (2018)

Keep An Eye Out (Au poste!) first published by EyeforFilm

In the opening scene of Keep An Eye Out (Au poste!), a moustachioed man conducts an open-air orchestral performance of Mozart while dressed only in a pair of bright red underwear, before fleeing the scene as the police arrive. This scenario comes from a familiar pattern of anxiety dreams, forming an apt introduction to the film’s oneiric (dis)orientations – but the arrival of the police at the scene’s end provides a perfect segue to the police station where most of the film’s remainder will unfold.

In an office there, chief inspector Buron (Benoît Poelvoorde), not exactly helped by his gormless one-eyed colleague Philippe (Marc Fraize), interrogates Louis Fugain (Grégoire Ludig), who, after discovering a man’s bloody corpse beneath his apartment late at night, has become chief suspect in the case. Unfolding a banal yet bizarre reconstruction of events, and having to account for the seven different occasions that he was spotted (by a nosy neighbour) leaving and returning to his apartment that night, Fugain finds the flashback form through which he delivers his narrative becoming irrationally interpenetrated by his present – and while he seems guileless enough and repeatedly proclaims his innocence, we know that he is hiding one almighty skeleton in the closet…

The latest theatre of the absurd to come from writer/director/DoP/editor Quentin Dupieux (Rubber, 2010; Wrong 2012; Reality, 2014), Keep An Eye Out is a hilarious interrogation of life, in all its mundanity, as a stage for the shlumpily surreal. If Philippe tends to litter his sentences with the modifier ‘actually’ (c’est pour ça, literally ‘that’s why’) – a habit which he has picked up from his policewoman wife (Anaïs Demoustier), and which soon spreads infectiously to everyone’s utterances –  Dupieux’s film serves to drop the mask and then lift the veil on any fixed notion of what ‘actually’ might mean (or an intelligible causal chain between these paradigm-shifting events might be). Here we are constantly wrong-footed by a bewildering collision of different narrative digressions, appetitive drives, arbitrary incidents and subjective worlds, until a final coup de théâtre is delivered, and then itself upended. It may be easy to get lost in all these paradoxical layerings of reality, but the sound of your own laughter is always there as a reliable guide through one man’s nightmarishly guilty conscience.

© Anton Bitel