Daaaaaali film review 2023

Daaaaaalí! Film Review

Why I took it off the list:

I’m a big fan of Quentin Dupieux’s absurdist comedy/horror Rubber (2010), which I caught at the Sitges Film Festival almost 15 years ago.

In the decade-and-a-half since he debuted the flick about a homicidal car tire with telekinetic powers, Dupieux has released no less than 9 features, and several shorts. Among them, critically acclaimed, offbeat films like Deerskin (2019) and Smoking Causes Coughing (2022).

But for some reason, and though I kept meaning to, I have yet to see any of his other work. So when the chance arose to catch his latest, Daaaaaalí, at the Barcelona Film Fesitval, I decided it was time to finally get some more Dupieux in my life. So, let’s dig in!

Review of Daaaaaalí! (2023)

Any straightforward biopic of a such larger-than-life character as the legendary surrealist artist Salvador Dalí was surely going to fall flat in capturing the essence of the famous eccentric’s life. Quentin Dupieux seems to completely understand this, as he’s taken an incredibly unconventional approach that’s ultimately a perfect fit for this almost mythic figure.

Realizing the public perception of Dalí was just that and it may be impossible to capture the essence of the man himself, Dupieux doesn’t even try. Instead, he leans heavily into the myth and character of Dalí as an outsized eccentric, casting no fewer than 6 different actors to bring the artist to life.

He also wisely frames the story through the eyes of an audience surrogate, a rookie French journalist attempting to track Dalí down for an interview. This allows us to feel the disorientation of stepping into the surreal orbit of the artist’s life firsthand.

This dynamic also produces plenty of effective comedy, as the inexperienced scribe tries to wrangle the outsized personality into some kind of publishable article. This intention is frequently derailed by Dalí’s instance on controlling the conditions of his profile, as his ego drives him first to demand a filmed interview, then bigger cameras, and so on.

Endearing Performances and Striking, Hilarious Visuals

Dupieux also heavily leans into the imagery of Dalís work to give us some striking, and often hilarious visuals. A couple of his improbable landscapes are recreated in practical ways that are enormously pleasing to watch. And the artist’s outrageous imagination is shown to bleed into the ‘real’ world on many occasions.

His introduction as he walks down what has to be the longest corridor in movie history is truly hilarious. As is the surprise interruption of a rain of dead dogs when he needs the excuse to get out of an irritating phone call.

Dupieux’s most hilarious invention has to be the decision to frequently reveal what we have just been watching is a dream, which allows for some startling and laugh-out-loud moments. Particularly those involving a priest, a donkey, and a cowboy.

Props also have to be given to the 6 different actors who fully bring Dalí’s outsized personality to life. They are so effective that it often becomes difficult to tell when one has been swapped out for another.

Final Score: 8/10

Daaaaaalí! (2023): Worth Watching?

Yes, Daaaaaalí! is an inventive and frequently funny film. Filled with striking, often hilarious visuals, it’s an offbeat journey that does justice to the myth and unknowable nature of the artist’s legendary persona, more than any conventional biopic ever could.

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