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CANNES 2024 Out of Competition

Review: The Second Act


- CANNES 2024: The mischievous Quentin Dupieux plays with the boundary between fiction and reality on a film set, creating a funny and cheeky work of meta-cinema

Review: The Second Act
Léa Seydoux and Raphaël Quenard in The Second Act

Quentin Dupieux's speciality is to take a close look at human nature and portray it on screen with a more or less extreme dose of absurdist humour, shifting the standard reading grid to extract something that is paradoxically often more realistic than reality, halfway between the gritty and the playful. Throughout his 12 films (over 14 years), the prolific French filmmaker has built up an ever-widening circle of aficionados (it has to be said that making people laugh intelligently is not something that just anyone can do), and his latest film, The Second Act [+see also:
film profile
, screened at the opening of the 77th Cannes Film Festival, only serves to confirm his total mastery of the style of the small-scale play with a vast resonance that he is so fond of.

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"We must distinguish the man from the artist," "If the woman you introduced me to was a man, I couldn’t because my sexual orientation wouldn’t allow me to," “Do you realise what this gratuitous and verbal violence is doing to our image, the cinemas are already half empty - They don't care, people, they've moved on - There are plenty of cinema-goers out there, we're exposed, we have to set a good example - So deal with your problem first, come out of the closet - I'm not gay, I'm bi, and it's not a problem - Ah, you're like hybrid cars, you pollute, and when it suits you, you switch to hybrid,” “Stop, we're going to get in trouble, stick to the script,” “I can't pretend any longer. The world is in chaos and you're still making films as if nothing had happened - Why not? It's like the musicians on the Titanic - That’s a legend! To make people believe that artists are brave.” These are just a few of the many telling examples of the tone of a film that fires caustic bursts, admittedly shot through with blanks like soap bubbles, but which hits the nail on the head when it comes to the craft of acting.

Quentin Dupieux’s firework of witticisms is both amusing and thought-provoking, uncompromisingly exposing all the shortcomings of our times while greedily juggling with the politically incorrect, as he incorporates it into a skilful film-within-a-film set-up. We find ourselves on a set where it will soon be very difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is fake, acting and life, rehearsal and shooting, with four sharp performers (Léa Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Raphaël Quenard and Louis Garrel) and an extra (Manuel Guillot). So there's no shortage of hilarious surprises in a work perfectly crafted by its inventive creator, who knows how to say a lot within modest surroundings and under the cover of hard-hitting, even biting, but always affectionate, mockery. And what could be more entertaining (and subversive) than laughing at cinema in the setting of its Cannes temple?

The Second Act was produced by Chi-Fou-Mi Productions and is sold internationally by Kinology.

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(Translated from French by Margaux Comte)

Photogallery 15/05/2024: Cannes 2024 - The Second Act

15 pictures available. Swipe left or right to see them all.

Vincent Lindon, Léa Seydoux, Louis Garrel, Raphaël Quenard, Manuel Guillot
© 2024 Fabrizio de Gennaro for Cineuropa -,

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