The disappearance of a tourist brings two bumbling inspectors to the picturesque seaside town of Slack Bay; a place where a mussel gathering family cradle-carry the wealthy across the bay when the tide is high, wealthy that are too obsessed with their own stupidity to realize that these mussel gatherers also double as cannibals.
Written and directed by Bruno Dumont—a filmmaker known more for his dramatic works than his comedic—Slack Bay is a bourgeois farce made by a filmmaker who is above such silly matters. Though Dumont cites Laurel and Hardy, Peter Sellers, and Monty Python as inspirations, Slack Bay is almost entirely inert and completely devoid of recklessness and anarchy. Perhaps Dumont thinks he can elevate such lowly material through form and rigor, though Slack Bay lacks that as well. Guillaume Deffontaine’s images are beautiful in themselves, but the compositions have neither the rigidity nor the looseness that comedy requires. Not even Didier Després, a balloon of a man who squeaks with every step, or Juliette Binoche as the hysterical Aude Van Peteghem can bring levity to this over-long, over-bloated piece of dreck.
Slack Bay opens June 16 in limited release. In French with English subtitles.