Music is always an important aspect of Quentin Dupieux’s films, so it’s no mistake that he chose Philip Glass’s “Music with Changing Parts” for Reality: the piece suggests an apt metaphor for both what happens in the film and what it’s like to watch it. The characters are simplistic, easily recognizable figures drawn from a variety of genres—an aging auteur struggling to inject art into reality TV, a nutso movie producer, a Z-list diva, a precocious but lonely little girl—but through repetition, their problems and quirks snowball into dissonance and absurdity, blurring the line between what’s real and what isn’t.
Because this is a Dupieux movie, what’s “real” doesn’t matter: stress dreams turn into movies that bleed into the set of a television show that turns out to be a VHS tape found inside a dead boar’s stomach… which then leads to a sequence of events that we’ve already seen previously. Following the flow of characters’ misunderstandings and anxieties about work, we’re transported to a different state of consciousness that’s neither dreamlike nor lucid.
Alain Chabat, who plays Jason, a Francophone cameraman and wannabe director in search of the perfect scream for his idiotic, high-concept project, hits the perfect note somewhere between low-key Eighties action star and middle-aged dad. (The film’s washed-out palette also suggests something worn down by life.) While Dupieux’s sensibility isn’t for everyone, true believers will recognize this as his best film yet.