Interview with a Gangster: Our Review of ‘Meet Doug’ on MUBI Canada

Posted in What's Streaming? by - July 11, 2023
Interview with a Gangster: Our Review of ‘Meet Doug’ on MUBI Canada

Meet Doug is a genre hybrid short, and I may get to what the genre hybrid is. But first, I’ll bring up how this short is about French gangsters, so my first thought is me wonder what Azealia Banks thinks of French rap. She probably dislikes the genre, but I’m a fairweather fan since the 2000s. So seeing French rappers putting their own spin on the visual album feels like a welcome sight for now. Underground French rapper Wall$treet 2VS plays Doug, the leader of a rural group of wannabe gangsters (including Buzz and Cyril Boutchenik). They routinely rob the same Polish eatery without them knowing that the eatery’s owner, Kassian, is more gangster than them. The gang also encounter a mysterious masked singer, Alukah (Kiala Ogawa) who may be an etherreal being from another world.

Because Meet Doug *is* a visual album, Doug and his friends often break the fourth wall and rap. Pardon for stating the obvious, but this short is the one that made me realize that fourth wall breaks are inherent in visual albums and music videos. It also incporporates elements of the mockumentary subgenre as those wall breaks sometimes show the characters talking to the screen a la interview segments. With these interviews, Kassian talks about the other things he sells other than sandwiches. Or Doug and and friends trying to piece together their weird night. Maybe Alukah appeared to them because they were tripping out on whatever it was that Kassian put on the sandwiches. It is a legitimate concern that this short is doing too much at once even with its running time.

Meet Doug‘s tendency to overjuggle extends through its third act. Unlike what most shorts do, this one still keeps introducing character back stories. I don’t need to know how one of the minor characters turned from a thief to a security guard. All of this takes the spotlight away from what the rappers are doing. It’s also understandable that director and writer Theo Jollet chooses to resolve the Kassian storyline first. However, that also clogs up a bit of screentime before it moves on to Doug meeting up with Alukah. Nonetheless, the short shows aesthetic polish even during scenes that require realism more than a fantastical mind trip. This short is the second MUBI exclusive this summer that feels chaotic. But the chaos leads to a fun time that cinephiles can greatly enjoy.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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