Cinema Review: Li'l Quinquin | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020  

Li’l Quinquin

Studio: Kino Lorber / Fandor
Directed by Bruno Dumont

Jan 07, 2015 Web Exclusive
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Director Bruno Dumont’s new miniseries at first seems like a fussy, small-town murder mystery. The inept detective team of Commandant Van der Weyden (Bernard Pruvost) and Lieutenant Carpentier (Philippe Jore) cartoonishly bumble around a seaside farming town trying to determine how, on two separate occasions, a human body could end up chopped into little pieces and stuffed inside livestock. But as we become better acquainted with the town and its inhabitants, an underlying uneasiness bubbles over and, by the ambiguous-but-satisfying final moments, the ugliness of the human condition is laid bare.

The titular L’il Quinquin (Alane Delhaye) is a funny-looking kid with a tough guy’s face that matches his attitude. The proud holder of a bunch of firecrackers and the fearless leader of a gang of bullies, he is our protagonist. We meet him on the first day of summer vacation and follow him as he antagonizes the police proceedings, threatens the local brown kids, and generally makes trouble around town.

At first the police investigation is a welcome distraction for Quinquin and his friends who have little means of entertainment, but as the bodies start piling up, the seriousness of the crimes escalates. No longer absurd oddities, the killings indicate that a serial killer is on the loose. The Commandant takes this queue to become introspective, quoting works of great literature and referencing Flemish painting, and Quinquin’s stoicism is truly tested. But the perpetrator (who must be “The Devil incarnate”) remains at large. In a small town where all adults lives are intertwined, there is the sense that their privacy isn’t worth sacrificing to catch the killer among them. Quinquin and the Commandant may be at odds, but they are the only two interested in achieving justice.

Dumont packs in the literary and cinematic references in exchange for the usual suspense of the television mystery so the pace occasionally lags, and eventually the quirky dark comedy wears a bit thin. But all in all, L'il Quinquin proves to be an incredibly sophisticated slow burn; it is more than it seems and leaves lingering questions. We can never be sure who done it, but we know he’s still out there, this Devil Incarnate. 

[Li'l Quinquin is now playing in select theaters, and all four parts are available for streaming through Fandor. For more information, check out this website.]

Author rating: 7/10

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