After helming some of the most austere, polarising films in French arthouse cinema, writer-director Bruno Dumont made a surprise swerve into the world of TV in 2014 with P’tit Quinquin, a miniseries that premiered at Cannes in a (still long) film version later released in UK cinemas.
A blackly comic murder mystery, the show starts off as a macabre riff on police procedurals like Midsomer Murders, crossed with kids-up-to-mischief comedies like The Little Rascals, as Van Der Weyden (Bernard Pruvost), a bumbling detective and his deputy, Carpentier (Philippe Jore), try to solve a series of grisly deaths while a group of youths, led by the eponymous Quinquin (Alane Delhaye), watch. What is gradually revealed about the rural southern France setting is the deep prejudices of its residents, particularly towards Arab or African Muslim immigrants, some of whom end up being murder victims. Even the initially ‘good’ leads, the arguable points of identification for the audience, turn out to be belligerent bigots.
Given all of the above, you may be wondering why the sequel miniseries, Coincoin And The Extra-Humans, set years later, is being covered by a genre magazine. One word: aliens.
Last time around, bodies were being scattered around the land. This time, pools of extra-terrestrial faeces descend from the sky and doppelgängers are meandering amok across the place. In a Body Snatchers-like twist on the first series’ thematic interests, distrust and fear of outsiders in has now transformed into a literal invasion.
As he was in the first series, Pruvost’s performance as Van Der Weyden is the most consistent highlight of Coincoin, the actor’s Einstein-like appearance and bodily tics making a captivating comic creation amid the unsettling darkness of the place in which he operates; though, as alluded, he’s also no innocent. A further comic highlight stems from the body snatchers being birthed from copied people’s rectums. You’ve never witnessed a follow through quite like this.