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[FrightFest Glasgow 2023] FILM REVIEW: Smoking Causes Coughing

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

Smoking Causes Coughing (Fumer Fait Tousser] - FrightFest Glasgow UK Premiere Review

Director: Quentin Dupieux

Starring: Gilles Lellouche, Vincent Lacoste, Anais Demoustier, Jean-Pascal Zadi, Oulaya Amamra

Written by: Quentin Dupieux

Produced by: Hugo Sélignac

Cinematography by: Quentin Dupieux

Original Score by: Martin Caraux


A group of vigilantes called the Tobacco-Force is falling apart. To rebuild team spirit, their leader suggests that they meet for a week-long retreat, before returning to save the world.


I might've just watched one of the most insane films of the year so far. I did not know what to expect going into Quentin Dupieux' 'Smoking Causes Coughing' and honestly I think it's the best way to watch the film. It's a fantasy comedy but set in the real world and nothing makes sense. It's hilarious.

In the history of French cinema there has always been a recurring attribute that filmmakers have lived by, originality. Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and Luc Besson all had a particular visual style and storytelling traits that made them widely influential. Being original doesn't always equate to being good of course and the latest entry from Dupieux will certainly be divisive. It really does feel like a film that you will either love or hate. There is no middle ground but it will be necessary to clear your mind and just go with the flow before watching.

The Tobacco Force are a team of superheroes hugely inspired by the fictional 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' who are (very randomly) intent on ridding the world of smoking. Ironically their names all derive from the world of smoking. There's Nicotine (Anaïs Demoustier), Ammoniaque (Oulaya Amamra), Mercure (Jean-Pascal Zadi), Benzène (Gilles Lellouche) and Méthanol (Vincent Lacoste). Not only are they less like the Avengers and more like Power Rangers in how they look, they also perform their "super abilities" and fighting style based on the 90s cult classic television show, which itself is inspired by the 70s Japanese television show 'Super Sentai'. This particularly fighting style helps them to destroy enemies like giant humanoid turtles.

But the team have not been on the best form lately and their fearless leader and mentor Chef Didier has instructed them to take a much needed break together in order to bond. Oh I forgot to say that Didier is a rat puppet with a massive saliva problem who is also a highly sexualised womaniser.

The team come together to tell stories over a campfire at night and this is what takes up most of the short runtime. The stories that unfold infront of our eyes are just silly and bizarre but weirdly hypnotic. Like the more insane they get the more I was obsessed with watching them. There's a story about a woman who puts on a helmet that makes her turn into a murderer and another story about a man who falls into a wood chipper but still survives. And those aren't even the weirdest stuff going on here. One story is being told by a barracuda that one of the team catch in the lake they are residing close by. All these stories are being told in the backdrop of a potentially colossally cataclysmic event that is about to come to fruition at the hands of the teams ultimate enemy Lézardin, a scaly skinned humanoid in the same guise as a classic Bond villain.

The practical effects are all spot on and even though this is distinctly an homage to B movies of the past and the budget is kept to a minimum, there is clearly an abundance of care put into the effects and costumes. When the gore appears its usually done in a campy way, like when the giant turtle explodes and all its innards smash the team in the face. The world building is actually quite clever too in a subtle way and even though none of it really makes any logical sense it does attempt to create its own world rules. Chef Didier may look like he's walked off the set of an 80s BBC children's day time television show but he is in fact an absolute hoot and the performances from the entire cast, which are relatively muted, are all perfect. Some of the delivery of the dialogue is just priceless.

If you can accept the outlandish silliness of it all then you are guaranteed to have a fucking fantastic fun time with this little French gem.

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

- Gavin Logan

'Smoking Causes Coughing' received it's UK Premiere at FrightFest Glasgow 2023 on Thursday 9th March

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