A leisurely exercise in comic minimalism peppered with funny sight gags and quasi-surreal concepts, “Shipwrecked on Route D 17” is a minor amusement well suited to fests and tube dates. Longtime critic and occasional filmmaker Luc Moullet’s canvas is an ultra-modest cousin to Otar Iosseliani’s behavioral comedies, but with more dialogue.
Pic starts like a tongue-in-cheek docu on an isolated valley in the southern French Alps — “The population of 1,000 under Napoleon has dwindled to 100 people and a preponderance of sheep” — but quickly morphs into a comedic view of human nature. When rally driver Paul (Patrick Bouchitey) gets stuck and his vehicle requires towing, his co-driver (Iliana Lolic) sets out for help. Meanwhile, a camera crew attempts to shoot an incongruous Western, and an army patrol led by a preening, deluded officer (Jean-Christophe Bouvet) becomes convinced it’s hot on the tail of an Iraqi plot. (Pic is set during week one of the Gulf War.) Sample gags include a restaurant that accepts only credit cards and an irate land surveyor who accuses a tripod-toting cameraman of infringing on his geological territory.