Paris in the capital of Europe, and is run by The Sisterhood of Metacontrol. Feminist laws and political correctness keeps people on a distance from each other. Nono lives life his own way in this dystopian future, but eventually finds himself in trouble because of it.
After watching Carlos Atanes more recent sci-fi/apocalyptic feature "Maximum Shame", which won our Biggest Mindfuck Award, I knew I wanted to check out his earlier features as well. Prior to "Maximum Shame" I had only seen him compilation "Codex Atanicus", and between the two of them I knew I had missed out on something rather interesting. In just those two projects, he has made a big enough mark on me to actually be what I consider an inspiration and influence on my own work. He most definitely defines "independent artist", as he does everything his own way and fuck 'em if they don't get it ("They" being us).
As you'd expect, "FAQ" takes a bit of an effort to get into. Not because it tries to hide behind tons of metaphors and hidden meanings, but because it's so unapologetic. It knows what it is, and it won't jump through hoops to help you. That said, the story will eventually sink in, and a dystopian story reminiscent of Orwell's "1984" is what appears. In this dystopian future, Paris is the capital of Europe, and The Sisterhood of Metacontrol is the law and, of course, the big brother of the story. Their feminist laws have forbidden any kind of close contact, and political correctness isn't a matter of being polite, but a law that must be followed.
In this story we follow Nono. Nono doesn't speak much (he doesn't utter a word in the movie) but instead he listens. Through a microphone he listens to everything, from insects and ropes, to the regime. He doesn't follow the rules, nor does he care to break them. The fact that he keeps to himself has kept him away from trouble, but now that he is being contacted by a group of pornographers (struggling in this absolute body contact-less world) and starts having a relationship with a woman part of the Sisterhood he's soon to be facing court.
With Carlos work I keep coming back to the same couple of positive points. First of all it's the ways he goes to achieve dystopia and post-apocalypsm. His very simple, but simply perfect ways. He knows exactly what to show and tell us to make this future a reality to us, and there's never a question of disbelief in his films. If there's one thing he sells us, it's that this film is set in a dystopian future. And yet he doesn't do much differently than other filmmakers in terms of locations and situations. It's set in abandoned buildings, deserts and forests. In "FAQ" it shows why this (the setting) has became one of the most typical things in a post-apocalyptic film, and not just because it's places that are guaranteed to be free from people (unlike cities). He also throws in the good ol' totalitarianism, and I think that aspect of the film is pretty classic. Nothing very new thrown into the concept, and you could say it's playing it safe but I'm not sure that's really true. "Atanes" and "safe" doesn't go well together.
The second thing with Carlos is how he makes his effects. These come off as cheap and simple solutions that wouldn't work in any other movie - it would make them feel like SyFy Channel movies. Again, not with Carlos. Sometimes silly and cheap, sometimes it works well, but either way it's part of what he does and his stories work around it. When you've watched one of his works, you're not likely to forget about it. The weird and completely bizarre use of poor effects in an otherwise smart movie is one of the reasons. And that's why he continues to inspire me. He's living proof that you can get around big budgets and still conceive something rather fantastic.
In the end, I think "FAQ" is a good movie. It doesn't step as far out there as "Maximum Shame", but you need to keep in mind that this is a debut feature. I'll be honest, it got tedious at times much because it's easy to get lost. Once you get back into it, both back into the story and the mood, you'll be a happy camper again. The key is to know what to focus on as there are times where there's seemingly nothing but nonsense, yet it'll have an impact in one way or another. Not my favorite out of the Carlos Atanes films I've seen so far, but it's something worth checking out if you want to check out a rather unique take on a familiar dystopian future concept. A strong debut feature that I personally didn't get much of a message out of, rather just a neat little story. Had I expected more? Sure. I won't deny that I might like this movie more because I'm charmed by Carlos Atanes' strangeness, ideas, techniques and ways of creating.