The Coen brothers and David Lynch walk into a pet store… That might sum up Wrong rather nicely…
It’s hard to believe that we’re coming up on the end of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival already, it seems like we just got under way!
Tonight’s second feature was the next offering from Quentin Dupieux, who gave us the very eccentric, interesting film Rubber, about a sentient killer tire. Wrong promised to be just as out there and entertaining, following the strange misadventures of Dolph (Jack Plotnick) as he tries to find his kidnapped dog.
What the audience is given is energetic eccentricity, dog delights, and a genuine good time filled with oddball characters and the search for man’s best friend.
Where Rubber may have been too out there for some viewers this is in a decidedly absurd middle ground, a world that the viewer recognizes even if it is just a little off, with clocks that can read 07:60 as an example.
The world is populated by very well spoken people who say the oddest things, including a horny, unobservant and overly attached girlfriend Emma (Alexis Dziena), Victor (Eric Judor) the gardener unable to explain how a palm tree has become a pine tree and a cop (Mark Burnham) with some strong opinions.
Dolph is struggling to get through life, showing up to work in an office that is constantly drenched in rain, trying to psychically connect with his best friend, his dog Paul.
William Fichtner is awesome as a pet guru named Master Chang. Fichtner, as always, steals every scene he is in, in this case with a slightly skewed accent and an odd intonation when he speaks. The scene in which he explains to Dolph what is going on is priceless especially when he starts to recommend his pet books.
Wrong is a much more gentle film than Rubber. Dolph is completely unconnected from the world around him, distracting himself with discussions about company logos (for Jesus’ Organic Pizza), continuing to go to work despite his standing in that environment. The only thing he truly treasures in life, prizes above all things, is his love for, and relationship with, his adorable dog.
The film is populated with wonderfully odd characters, the next door neighbour who ups and leaves, the cop, the gardener, the girlfriend, the detective hired to find Paul and Master Chang all of whom the stressed but seemingly normal Dolph interacts with in his misadventures to find his dog.
Jack Plotnick’s infuses Dolph with such a broken, sad existence that you empathize with his character, with his wild hair and 70s moustache he’s a gentle soul who just wants his best friend back safe and sound. He’s more connected with his dog than anything else in his world, everything else is secondary after the love of his pet – an understandable state for any pet owner, which just endears the character to you all the more.
Both Plotnick and Fichtner are a joy to watch in this film, and I found myself wishing that they had shared more screen time together, as when they occupy the same scene the film has some of its best moments just through looks and dialogue.
This film was a true gem against the already impressive backdrop of the selection at this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and it is one of the films I’m walking away from referring to as one of my favorites.
Post script – and I love the above version of the theatrical poster by Jay Shaw.