Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
Plot: In 2045 society has become highly dependent on robot helpers. When a band of rogue, self-aware AI androids stage a revolt four household robots decide to lock a group of people in a house for their protection.
Review: French writer/director Jean-Pierre Jeunet helmed one of the worst entries in the Alien franchise (1997’s dismal Alien Resurrection) and achieved acclaim with 2001 romcom Amélie. Thankfully, 2022 Sci Fi comedy Bigbug, which he co-wrote with Guillaume Laurant, lands on the higher end of the quality scale.
Let’s chat about the visuals and set design first. The effects are quite impressive, an inspired combination of CGI and inventive practical work. Everything, including a fully CGI robot helper, has a weight and a tangibility to it that I enjoyed. The world is very colourful and almost garish in its bubblegum brightness. There’s also this Tim Burton-esque fantasy feel to the set design where everything feels just south of normal.
The human characters all have their little quirks that make them stand out, including sex-starved romantic Alice (Elsa Zylberstein), her intelligent daughter Nina (Marysole Fertard), her theatrical new beau Max (Stéphane De Groodt), Max’s broody son Léo (Hélie Thonnat), Alice’s practical ex-husband Victor (Youssef Hajdi), Victor’s empty headed new wife Jennifer (Claire Chust), and Alice’s silly neighbour Françoise (Isabelle Nanty). Usually in a film there are a few forgettable characters (or sometimes it’s the entire cast) but the performances are all solid here and everyone has their moments to shine.
But my favourite characters were the robots. Claude Perron is hilarious and delightfully disturbing as robot helper Monique and her increasingly awkward attempts to mimic humans never fail to amuse. André Dussollier also does well as the voice of sage leader of the helper robots Einstein. And I must give props to François Levantal who plays all the Yonyx androids. He has these bulging eyes and extremely creepy smile that is truly unsettling. The android design is a mix of RoboCop without his helmet and The Thinker from CW’s The Flash. So yeah, not the most original but it is effective as a walking terror.
The comedy is very much a French sensibility with much of the humour being wacky and absurdist. There is also quite a lot of sexual humour if not that much actual sex. It is definitely a weird film that revels in its own weirdness and never apologises for it. I can predict some viewers being turned off by its oddball sensibility, but once you buy into it there is a lot of fun to be had. The film also works as a satire of modern television culture, consumerism, technology and the nature of humanity, though it never gets too philosophical. All in all I had good time with Bigbug and I predict it will receive more recognition and appreciation as time goes by.
Editor Jules’s Score: 8 out of 10
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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.