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The thirteenth film by the prolific Quentin Dupieux, whose career as a filmmaker has now far outstripped that of a musician (known as Mr. Oizo), Daaaaaali! is a surrealist love-letter tribute to the legendary painter’s mad personality, “too big for one man”, and thus embodied by several actors.

Four actors (Gilles Lellouche, Édouard Baer, Jonathan Cohen and Pio Marmaï) – and a few more – give it their all. With rolling “r”s, grandiloquent intonations and perfectly waxed moustaches, Quentin Dupieux seems to have organised a joyous competition for the best Salvador Dali imitation (and if all are formidable, Édouard Baer wins the prize hands down). As its title suggests, with the multiplication of the first vowel also playing on this exaggeration, Daaaaaali! is as much a film about Salvador Dali as it is about the media persona the painter created for himself. The message is clear: the artist, who only talks about himself in the third person, only accepts the interview offered by a young journalist (Anaïs Demoustier) on condition that it takes place in the presence of “a big, huge camera”.

The individual might seem unsympathetic, but the game is so blatantly outrageous that it’s actually sympathetic and very funny. Dupieux’s Dali takes pleasure in pointing out that he is “anything but banal”, as if the TV protagonist every Frenchman knows were the last work of the surrealist master. Obviously, the film is a disciple’s homage to his teacher, for since his first feature film “Nonfilm” (2001), Quentin Dupieux has obviously followed in the footsteps of Salvador Dali’s surreal, playful, dream-inspired works. And if he’s a comedy director, it’s also because he hasn’t forgotten that in the eyes of children like himself, born in the mid-1970s, Dali was also that comic character seen in TV commercials.

However, it’s hard to place this anti-biopic in time, other than in the vague 1960s or 1970s, a time of fairy tales, of cinema – once upon a time during Salvador Dali’s lifetime. In this way, various actors portray the artist in different eras, all at the same time, as if time had melted away, like the soft watches in Persistence of Memory, certainly the painter’s most famous work. It’s not a question of recounting Dali’s life, or even of browsing through his works (we only catch a glimpse of some of them), but of resurrecting his generous personality by offering – as Quentin Dupieux has always been able to do – brilliant roles to a host of talented actors playing the painter, as well as many delightful secondary characters. All accompanied by a haunting score by ex-Daft Punk Thomas Bangalter. A true cinematic dream, anything but ordinary

Pierre Charpilloz