Like a Dirty French Novel (2021)

Like a Dirty French Novel (2021) MOVIE DETAILS
Name: Like a Dirty French Novel
Year: 2021
Country: USA
Director: Mike Cuenca
Main cast: Jennifer Daley, Robby Valls, Amanda Viola, Grant Moninger, Aaron Bustos
Runtime: 78 minutes
Production company: Blvd. Du Cinema Productions

It is my personal opinion, but I think that for Like a Dirty French Novel (2021), its co-writer, editor, composer of the soundtrack, and director Mike Cuenca has aimed to make the best movie possible. And, of course, all the filmmakers try to do that, nobody wants to dedicate a large amount of time, resources, energy, and money to something if the creators are not convinced the idea is worth it. But, in this case, it feels like Cuenca has put in a mixer all the ingredients he likes hoping to make the tastiest cocktail ever.

Because in Like a Dirty French Novel (2021) the numerous references to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) are obvious. Not only in a narrative way, with a story distributed in five chapters with two interludes but also with the colors, the mouth close-up of a mysterious woman Mia Wallace-like when she’s on the phone or lighting up her cigarette (of a fake brand, of course), the references to classic movies and filmmakers, a soundtrack filled with rock n roll and surf oldies, the dances… Those are almost trademark features of the Tarantino universe. Although, for the execution of the film, the bizarre surrealism reminds of the arts of David Lynch.

Also, come on, the title of the movie itself, Like a Dirty French Novel (2021), is already some sort of an allusion to those pulp magazines from the early 21st century with cheap stories, weird situations, and sexual exploitation as are happening in this film, and as happened in Tarantino’s cult classic. Mike Cuenca didn’t try to hide his referents, which is to appreciate.

The different chapters and interludes of Like a Dirty French Novel (2021) focus on independent stories from a group of characters that sooner or later end up meeting, so the whole story takes its form. The fact that the movie is placed in after the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and during the lockdown is merely anecdotical. Sure, people wear their masks and the home isolation and privacy for traveling are mentioned a few times, but I think that is just an asset used by the filmmakers to create an extra rarefied atmosphere, it doesn’t have a big impact on the story.

Due to the limited budget, but I bet also because it is the style of the filmmaker, the movie is filmed without many technical faculties. Extra professional illumination is almost not used, and the decoration of the sets is austere, probably being real homes and not stages built for the production. Acting is good enough, which is not always so easy to find in presentations of this sort. And the music is immersive and edgy, a perfect addition in order to keep the film together. An attractive atmosphere of DIY that is forced by cause of the limitations of the production but I am sure also wanted by the filmmakers.

If you want to have a summary, Like a Dirty French Novel (2021) is like if David Lynch directed Pulp Fiction (1994) with a very low budget but without the magic of the devoted filmmakers. It is not a rip-off, since it has its own personality, but the aura of amateurism surrounding the film makes it not be able to finally blast. A good watch for the lovers of crime movies that appreciate a different style of narrative

RATE: 4/10