French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux has been creating some pretty surreal masterpieces over the years, including Deerskin, in which Jean Dujardin’s Georges is obsessed with the tasselled loveliness of a suede jacket, and the utterly bonkers and highly entertaining Mandibles, in which two jokers find a giant fly which they hope will make them their fortune. So it was just a matter of time before this master of madness should focus his attention on the grand master of Surrealism, Salvador Dalí, the two coming together in the perfect storm that is Daaaaaali!

The film takes place in the 1980s and follows journalist Judith (Anaïs Demoustier) as she tries to pin down the artist and get an interview out of him for her documentary. Much of the film takes place in the hotel where said interview is to take place and the scenes in the hotel corridor are a joy to behold. As the audience watches Dalí (Édouard Baer) make his interminable way down the carpeted hallway, it is apparent that this film is not going to be your bog-standard biopic. In fact, Baer is merely one of a handful of actors portraying the artist throughout the film to great effect (Gilles Lellouche, Didier Flamand, Pio Marmaï and Jonathan Cohen also play him, each of the actors sharing the trademark moustache, a walking cane and a similar idiosyncratic intonation not far from Dalí’s actual way of speaking). This constant shapeshifting adds to the general confusion and absurdity.


The film moves from the hotel to a beach to the artist’s home. There is also a bizarre visit to a local priest’s home for dinner, where Dalí and his wife are regaled with the priest’s long-winded account of a dream. This in turn leads to a rabbit’s hole of stories within stories as Dupieux leads us all on a merry and disorienting dance, much of it to the accompaniment of Thomas Bangalter’s delirious score.

Demoustier, who is a long-time collaborator of Dupieux’s, is a charming presence who anchors the film with a semblance of normality. She is the foil to the various Dalí manifestations, all of whom are charming, frustrating and utterly barmy – much like the film itself. The impossibility of Judith’s task is exacerbated by the artist’s demands on his interviewer and his inflated sense of self-worth. Nevertheless, he is eminently watchable in all his incarnations. Daaaaaali! might not tell you much about the man it portrays (although it does bring to life two of Dalí’s works) and it certainly won’t have an easy time at the box office, but it is a charming, engaging and intelligent film that cements Dupieux’s reputation as a fearless and highly entertaining filmmaker who is the heir apparent to the Surrealist movement.