Photo | “Bigbug” – Eskwad
Post-apocalyptic, carnal fun from director of ‘Amélie’
Witty, wacky and adorable, “Bigbug” is the cutest post-apocalyptic dark comedy you’ll see all year. This is exactly what you would expect from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the visionary French director of “Amélie,” “The City of Lost Children” and “Delicatessen.”
He brings the whimsical humanity of “Amélie” to a story about a hostile robotic takeover of mankind and it mostly works, especially given the retro-futuristic production design. The year is 2045 and the characters’ homes look like glossy versions of the future that Walt Disney cooked up — that look like 1950s housewives, complete with gleaming bobs and shiny red lips, perform all household functions. Humans live in harmony with their robotic household helpers, enjoying the food they cook, engaging in intellectual conversations with them or, in some rare cases, quite a bit more than that.
The problem lies with the next generation of artificial intelligence, the Yonyx, who decide that, in their superior efficiency, they have rendered humans obsolete. When they mount a hostile takeover of society one afternoon, the gentler robots try to outsmart their aggressive counterparts to save their hapless humans. Subject to their assistance is a divorced couple, their new partners and various teenaged progeny, who all get locked into one house against their will for their own safety.
What follows is a relationship farce against the backdrop of impending global destruction, as the characters find time to try to save humanity and to hook up with one another. It is French after all. Their schemes and misadventures are always amusing, and the conversations among the robots never fail to offer a pithy indictment of humanity. No philosophical points are necessarily made that have not been made before, but it certainly is beautiful and interesting to look at.
While Jeunet’s visually stunning “The City of Lost Children” was a sepia-toned steampunk dreamscape, “Bigbug” is closer to “The Jetsons.” Alice (Elsa Zylberstein) has artistic sensibilities and dabbles in crafts from the good old days of printed books and handwriting, while her ex-husband Victor (Youssef Hajdi) prepares to vacation in the most technologically advanced resort island ever created with his new girlfriend, Jennifer (Claire Chust), for whom old-fashioned ideas hold no romance or fascination whatsoever. When the terrifying Yonyx take over, Jennifer readily colludes with them.
As the sincere household robots attempt to become more human so that they can earn the trust of their carbon-based masters and protect them from the Yonyx, Jeunet hits his whimsical stride, and the glimmer we saw in Amélie’s love of the small pleasure of life come through, except these pleasures are enumerated by some incredibly cool-looking robots. A marvelously articulated bust of Einstein walks around on spiderish legs while the aforementioned housewife robot Monique (Claude Perron) observes the human situation with her comprehending robot eyes and delivers amusing and accurate readings of the lusty human goings-on.
The philosophical points about homogeneity and humanity are not necessarily profound but the film’s characters are singular and there is a lot to enjoy in “Bigbug.” It is not as challenging and satisfying as “Delicatessen” or “The City of Lost Children,” and of course, it is not as romantic as “Amélie” because few films are, but it is one of the most charming dystopian sex farces you could hope to see.
It actually reminded me of the underappreciated animated film “Robots,” (2005) which was designed by the children’s author and illustrator William Joyce. I think it is the preponderance of the color teal and the extremely pleasurable way it combines with all the metals, burnished wood and rivets. Honestly, their furniture alone makes the whole film worth watching.
If you admired the retro-futuristic world of the recent show “Loki,” which brought us to a celestial bureaucracy that looked like the future as imagined in the past, you will love “Bigbug.” Come for the spectacular production design, stay for the wacky sexual situations.
“Bigbug” is now streaming on Netflix.
New This Week:
“Studio 666”: The legendary rock band Foo Fighters move into an Encino mansion steeped in grisly rock ’n’ roll history to record their much anticipated 10th album. Once in the house, Dave Grohl finds himself grappling with supernatural forces that threaten both the completion of the album and the lives of the band. All multiplex theaters.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”: Catch this cult classic, in which sweethearts Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a transvestite scientist. Presented by the Mystic Society of Rocky Horror. No outside props are allowed. Costumes and audience participation are encouraged. Crescent Theater, Feb. 25 and 26 at 10 pm.
“Cyrano”: Award-winning director Joe Wright envelops moviegoers in a symphony of emotions with music, romance and beauty in “Cyrano,” a reimagining of the timeless tale of a heartbreaking love triangle. A man ahead of his time, Cyrano de Bergerac (played by Peter Dinklage) dazzles with ferocious wordplay at a verbal joust and with brilliant swordplay in a duel. But, convinced that his appearance renders him unworthy of the love of a devoted friend, the luminous Roxanne (Haley Bennett), Cyrano has yet to declare his feelings for her — and Roxanne has fallen in love, at first sight, with Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). CMX Pinnacle 14, Gulf Shores.
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