For fans of cinematic surrealism, these French co-directors return after their much-praised debut, Aaltra (Tribeca Film Festival 2005), with another exhilarating look at life's cruel inconsistencies. Delépine and Kervern's penchant for far-out imagery may alienate the squeamish, but everybody else is guaranteed a good time. Humorous and very modern, Avida's carefully composed scenes fall somewhere between Jacques Tati and a slideshow of black-humored New Yorker cartoons. Animals are the recurring motif: as Chief Seattle warned: "Whatever happens to animals will soon happen to man," and in this film, it certainly does. The directors also appear onscreen: Delépine plays a mad hatter addicted to deforming his face with scotch tape, and Kervern appears as a hairy deafmute dog handler. The story develops when the latter is drawn into a dog-napping by two ketamine-addicted zoo-keepers (Delépine and Eric Martin). The scheme fails, and instead they are forced to help the pooch's millionaire owner, Avida (Velvet), carry out her death wish. The film is enlivened with cameos by director Claude Chabrol as a rich gourmet who frequents a private zoo-restaurant, and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière as a man who falls victim to his fully automated home, surrounded by high walls and pit bulls. As in Aaltra, camerawork plays a key role in creating a surreal parallel universe, thanks to Hugues Poulain's amusing black-and-white cinematography.
BENOÎT DELÉPINE and GUSTAVE KERVERN met while working at Canal Plus on a television show called Grolandsat. After collaborating on several sketches, the two began work on the absurdist road movie Aaltra, which played at several international film festivals. Avida, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.