This is my review of Musee Haut Musee Bas – DVD.
In this surrealistic spoof of a day in the life of a museum, we see pretentious artists, self-important or customer-unfriendly staff, and easily manipulated visitors acting out a modern version of “the emperor’s new clothes”. The whole parody is overseen by a demented curator, obsessed with removing any trace of greenery in an ongoing battle between art and nature, which he seems doomed to lose as the vegetation displays a triffid-like aggressiveness.
There are amusing incidents, such as the artist who strangles someone who has been driving him mad, with a view to exhibiting the body in a glass case, shades of Damian Hirst’s cow in formaldehyde. I enjoyed the clever examples of actors unconsciously simulating scenes from famous paintings, although you need to be more erudite than me to recognise them all.
To be fair, I believe the cast includes a number of respected French actors, and perhaps you need to be French to appreciate the humour. Sadly, what could have been sharp and original is marred by a repetitious dialogue which tries to be funny but fails for me in its lack of wry,subtle wit. The film lapses too often into slapstick or banal silliness, so that I never felt caught up in the events or forgot I was watching a film.