Smoking Causes Coughing


If you know anything about world cinema, and we hope you do, then you’re probably aware that when it comes to the French, they take their cinema seriously. After all, it’s the home of New Wave, and auteurs such as Truffaut and Godard.

But every once in a while, French cinema can produce something fantastical, as it did with the films of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet in the nineties with Delicatessen and The City of the Lost Children.

And this is a welcome addition to that list.

boom reviews Smoking Causes Coughing
So cute, he can play Snake with his eyes.

Fighting super-powered creatures is no easy task, even if you are the all powerful Tobacco Force: Benzene (Gilles Lellouche), Ammonia (Oulaya Amamra), Nicotine (Anaïs Demoustier), Mercury (Jean-Pascal Zadi) and Methanol (Vincent Lacoste).

Their chief (Alain Chabat), who happens to be a drooling rodent, believes the team are suffering from burn out, needing time to regroup and get their superhero mojo back, so he sends them all off to a country retreat.

It turns out it’s just what they needed, and they spend much of the time just telling stories to entertain one another.

Little do they know however that their arch nemesis Lézardin (Benoit Poelvoorde) has dastardly plans afoot, which may well catch the team off guard, putting the planet in peril.

boom reviews Smoking Causes Coughing
They wanted me for the Fantastic Four but I turned them down.

If anyone deserves the title of King of Quirk it’s French director Quentin Dupieux. He has a proven track record, that includes the excellent Rubber and Deerskin, for producing films that are truly sublime. And his latest is no different.

It’s a delightfully curious mix of retro sci-fi, comedy and horror, as we follow an unusual bunch of superheroes unwind. It’s also an anthology film, much like Tales of the Crypt which the film knowingly references, as short stories within the film are also told. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a little puppetry going on, reminiscent of the classic anarchic BBC TV show The Young Ones.

We’re not sure if the French have a word for ‘bonkers’ but if they don’t this film is the epitome of it.

It’s outrageously silly, with squirts of dark humour, all wrapped up with a pleasing retro sci-fi look, that’s a visual nod to the likes of Blake’s Seven and Space 1999.

In fact it’s safe to say that no one is making films like Dupieux, who is becoming an auteur of the quirkiest of cinema, be it French or any other.

As well as being great fun, it could be said it also has a very French philosophical side, as illustrated by the film’s finale, as well as some of the characters featured in the stories within it.

Perhaps the only area the film disappoints is in being all too brief, at only just over an hour and fifteen minutes long; once you get a taste for the Tobacco Force, you wonder why they didn’t feature more, perhaps expanding on their carcinogenic cinematic universe, because their antics are highly addictive.

If you, like us, are getting a little weary with the output of the likes of the MCU and DCU, there is an alternative in the Tobacco Force, and trust us, you’ll never have seen anything like them.

Smoking Causes Coughing is wonderfully weird, totally unique, and utterly absorbing, so much so that it should come with a health warning, because you will be hooked.

we give this four out of five