Late on yesterday there was a van that crashed, killing the driver in a fire, though when the fire brigade arrived they just stood by and watched it burn, with one fireman even taking a shit beside the road while reading his newspaper. What has this to do with Dolph Springer (Jack Plotnick), who wakes up the next morning as the clock changes from 7:59 to 7:60? It's connected to his pet dog Paul, which as he rises and sets about preparing for the day, Dolph notices the pooch isn't around anymore and grows concerned...
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and director Quentin Dupieux for his follow up to the inscrutably odd Rubber created this paean to puppy love, that is, love for your pet dog. Which was odd in itself as Paul the mutt was offscreen for over 99% of the movie, mainly only seen in photographs where we could perceive the love the lead character has for his best friend, and no wonder when he doesn't seem to have any other friends, just acquaintances at best, such as the neighbour across the street who he asks about the missing animal only to be told he is getting out of this place and going somewhere random.
Anything to get away - we later see the neighbour roaring across a desert in his car, apparently going nowhere fast, as if a pet would have given him a sense of purpose that he lacked without one. But it's Dolph who we concentrate upon in a series of straightfaced surrealist sequences, in a similar vein to Dupieux's countryman Michel Gondry, if not quite as accomplished as here the sense of a filmmaker indulging in a mighty amount of noodling was difficult to shake. Every so often an interesting image or concept would arise, often from out of nowhere, such as the office Dolph works always pouring with rain inside.
To add to the weirdness, Dolph doesn't actually work there anymore since he was fired a couple of months ago, but you have to assume he is a creature of habit and likes everything in its right place, hence when problems arise it sends him into a deep crisis. Yet he's just about the sanest character, and even then was exhibiting off the wall tendencies, though at least when something bizarre happened he would react with bafflement as most of us would. Sometimes it's his own fault, as when he phones up a new pizza delivery service simply to have someone to talk to, and the woman on the other end of the line, Emma (Alexis Dziena), takes a shine to him.
So she is introduced into Dolph's life, except it's his gardener Victor (Eric Judor) who gets the free pizza she sends, and pretends to be him to take advantage of the offer of sex she includes in a note. This is the sort of film where when Emma shows up later, she still thinks Dolph and Victor are the same person even though they have different accents and of course do not resemble each other. But it was William Fichtner (Dziena's co-star in one season TV sci-fi wonder Invasion) who secured the strangest role as the scarfaced Mr Chang, a lifestyle guru who meets with the protagonist to inform him it was he who kidnapped the dog for his own reasons for a service which brings owners closer to their pets when they are reunited: except Paul has genuinely gone missing after that accident aftermath we saw at the beginning. Whatever off its head scenarios Dupieux threw up, and he did seem to be amusing himself more than anyone watching, the sincerity of the value of pets was well deployed even as he tried to obscure it with the wacky concepts. Music by himself (as his alias, Mr Oizo).