Certain to be one of the more divisive movies at Sundance this year, Quebecois actor and director Monia Chokri’s Babysitter is an expansively broad and scattershot comedy that casts a satirical eye on masculinity and misogyny. Edited to within an inch of its life and fuelled by a deranged, jerky energy it’s a swing for the fences that makes you glad there are filmmakers willing to follow such a singular muse, even if the results are exhausting.

Middle-aged sexist Cédric (Patrick Hivon) gets a little too drunk at an MMA match and kisses a female reporter’s cheek on live TV. He can’t see he’s done anything wrong until he’s called out by his long-suffering partner Nadine (director Chokri) and his ‘male feminist’ brother Jean-Michel (Steve Laplante). His company also take a dim view and he’s suspended from his job indefinitely. Fed up with him moping at home, Nadia decides to go back to work. The clueless Cédric advertises for a babysitter. Enter Amy (Nadia Tereszkiewicz), an almost guilelessly sensual bombshell who shakes up everything before her.

Babysitter feels weirdly like a hyperactive, candy-coloured take on Pasolini‘s Theorem directed by early by early Edgar Wright as a seductive agent of chaos enters the life of a family and turns everything on its head. In fact, chaos is the word that best sums up the entire film. It’s a discombobulating experience, drawing on stage farce (writer Catherine Léger adapts her own play), classic screwball comedy and more bizarre francophone comedies like Delicatessen). Not all of it gels (many will say none of it does), but there’s such a pinballing momentum that it never really slows down long enough to figure out. What it does do is get across its themes of performative feminism and the difficulties of being a genuine ally in an unobtrusive way that serves up any finger-wagging with a brassy ‘Kathryn Hahn in WandaVision’ wink.

The performances are as big as its presentation. You suppose they have to be or get lost in the maelstrom. Chokri probably comes the closest to a recognisable human being, and is certainly the most sympathetic character as a burned-out mother who suddenly finds herself having to deal with another depressed, middle-aged child. Tereszkiewicz gives such a deft performance, you’re not quite sure just how the sleight-of-hand’s been pulled. Chokri’s camera doesn’t leer and there’s no nudity. You even semi-believe Amy when she turns up in a French maid’s outfit and claims that she just works better in a uniform. Every time the eyes of the men – and, to be fair, Nadine – linger on Amy’s body, there’s an immediate cut to her face radiating carefree innocence and her mouth saying something sweet and homespun that may contain a kernel of flirtation, if you looked really, really hard.

Overall, it is difficult to say if Babysitter even holds together as a narrative. There’s a sense that if a shot lasted longer than five seconds, or if the camera simply focussed on anything at a normal angle, that the whole thing would collapse. As such it all feels like Wile E. Coyote sprinting in thin air in the second before he looks down. Yet it’s actually easy to be swept along by it and have all critical thinking shaken out of you on the way. It’s like trying to solve Fermat’s last theorem on a rollercoaster. Make no mistake, many are going to hate this. But those who like it will love it, even if they may need to check themselves for whiplash afterwards.

Screening as part of Sundance Festival 2022