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‘The Empire’ Review: Bruno Dumont’s Self-Consciously Daft Sci-Fi Bauble Isn’t Quite as Amusing as It Thinks

The forces of good and evil plot an alien Armageddon in a humdrum fishing village in the latest and most lumpen of Bruno Dumont's absurdist comedies

The 0s’ sentinel has been assimilated into the body of local lobster fisherman Jony, drily played by first-timer Brandon Vlieghe, who from some angles can look runty and rustic and from others like a dashing Han Solo-esque hero, albeit one with nefarious rather than gallantly roguish intentions. Van der Weyden and Carpentier are cruelly underused here muscled out by a lot of mythmaking mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t do anything substantial with all the opposing forces that Dumont’s scrappy screenplay references. Despite fun trappings — the crosswired sexual encounters, the talking blobs of CG goop, the horseback knights who are a chorus of aging local yokels delivering maguffin speeches in deliciously deadpan style — the actual conflict in the film boils down to a series of very simplistic binaries: good and evil, sacred and secular, female and male, one and zero, being and nothingness.

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