Cannes 2024 Review: In THE SECOND ACT, Quentin Dupieux Continues to Amuse

Contributor; Mexico City, Mexico (@EricOrtizG)
Cannes 2024 Review: In THE SECOND ACT, Quentin Dupieux Continues to Amuse

Quentin Dupieux’s new film The Second Act (Le deuxième acte) opened the 77th edition of the Cannes International Film Festival. It’s noteworthy that it’s a Netflix co-production and, although this could mean that Dupieux eventually reaches many more people, there’s nothing to worry about in the sense that his cinema remains very peculiar.

Likewise, Dupieux continues a prolific and high-quality streak, which includes recent titles such as Incredible But True (Incroyable mais vrai), Smoking Causes Coughing (Fumer fait tousser) and Yannick.

At the beginning of The Second Act we see friends David (Louis Garrel) and Willy (Raphaël Quenard) walking together and chatting about a peculiar proposal: David wants Willy to help him get rid of a woman who has been trying to seduce him for quite some time. Willy thinks there’s something fishy: why would a handsome guy like his friend want to “hand over” a beautiful girl? Willy wonders if she could be a trans woman and says, without hesitation, that that would disgust him.

Dupieux's cinema usually deals with the relationship that fiction and its creators have with their audience (think of Rubber or Yannick). During one moment in this vein, Garrel's character warns Willy that he can't say something like that about trans women because they’re being filmed.

Willy, one of those charismatic idiots, rephrases looking directly at the camera, but then continues with comments that make David (and surely more than one in Cannes) uncomfortable. He also expresses his displeasure over his colleague actor's concern about being canceled and losing his job; he even references Mel Gibson and his infamous anti-Semitic rant. Quenard, who also shined in Yannick, is hilarious.

The Second Act is cinema about cinema, particularly about actors, who try to carry out a day of shooting of a romantic film, a situation that becomes more and more chaotic. The other two main characters are Florence (Léa Seydoux) and Guillame (Vincent Lindon), who in the movie within the movie play respectively the woman who’s in love with David and her father. An extra (Manuel Guillot) becomes prominent in a subsequent hysterical passage: his uncontrollable stress because it's his film debut doesn’t allow him to fulfill his role as a waiter in a scene inside a restaurant bar.

With the humor that characterizes him, Dupieux deals with the acting world and also with the current state of the film industry. In addition to cancel culture, and the actors' concern to maintain the best possible image in the public opinion (even if they act immorally in private), other issues that come to light are: the purpose of continuing to act when the world is on fire, hypocrisy and convenience – you will see how the vision of the bitter actor (Lindon) changes when he receives a call linked to Paul Thomas Anderson – envy, the stereotypical use of cocaine, Me Too, agents, and the current era when algorithms appear to be more important than authorial voices, audiences seem to abandon the theaters, and artificial intelligence is no longer a mere sci-fi topic and is gaining ground.

The Second Act explores other ideas about appearances and the connection between fiction and reality, since here not everything is as it seems. What is an absolute truth is Dupieux's ability to make us laugh from beginning to end.

Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.
CannesCannes 2024Fumer fait tousserIncredible But TrueIncroyable mais vraiLe deuxième acteLéa SeydouxLouis GarrelManuel GuillotPaul Thomas AndersonQuentin DupieuxRaphaël QuenardSmoking Causes CoughingThe Second ActVincent LindonYannick

Around the Internet