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The Second Act by Quentin Dupieux

The Second Act

The Second Act (Le deuixème acte) by Quentin Dupieux opened the Cannes Film Festival yesterday. It is common knowledge that the opening films in Cannes range from mediocre to bad. A glorious exception was Annette in 2021. Dupieux is wildly uneven, but since his latest film, Daaaaaali! I still had some hope. A worrying factor was that Raphaël Quenard plays one of the leading parts. He played the titular role in the horrendous Yannick last year, a film shot in six days. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that the new work was churned out quickly as well. Watching it feels like a lifetime, though.

The film’s title refers to a bar in the middle of nowhere. That’s where Florence (Léa Seydoux) wants to introduce David (Louis Garrel), the man she’s madly in love with, to her father (Vincent Lindon). Our first encounter is with David and his friend Willy (Quenard). The former is not interested in Florence and wants to foist her on Willy instead. They discuss this issue during a long tracking shot that contains the typical Dupieuxesque ruminations on political correctness combined with meta elements where they point at the camera. Have we seen it before? Far too many times and in far better films.

The Second Act
The Second Act

Songs From The Second Act

Ingmar Bergman (the island guy) used to give the advice to directors that whenever they felt stuck and didn’t know what to do, they should tell the crew to build “a long fucking rail. While they do that, you will have time to think things over.” Dupieux apparently heeded that advice with the long track, but he omitted the thinking part. Meta layers will pile upon each other without amounting to anything more than an uninteresting pile. Those who have been routinely sceptical of the director’s work will get plenty of grist to their mills here. The rest of us can merely sigh in disappointment over 85 wasted minutes

Screened at Cannes 2024, Out Of Competition.

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