‘Yannick’ Review: First Act Problems

‘Yannick’ Review: First Act Problems

At first glance, you might think that with around a dozen movies to his credit, Quentin Dupieux is finally settling down. The French director’s latest takes place entirely inside a Parisian theater, during a play — we are far from superheroes with a giant rat for a boss (“Smoking Causes Coughing”), time-travel passages (“Incredible But True”) and serial-killing tires (“Rubber”).

Dupieux’s fans will be happy to know that his surreal humor is gloriously intact, while newcomers might find in this movie a gateway into one of contemporary cinema’s most idiosyncratic universes.

“Yannick” starts by bringing to life a fantasy many theatergoers might have had at some point. Frustrated by a dreary, unfunny farce made even worse by a terrible cast (which is expertly played by Pio Marmaï, Sébastien Chassagne and the comedian Blanche Gardin), Yannick (Raphaël Quenard) stands up from his orchestra seat and loudly complains. After overhearing the actors mock him, he pulls out a gun and holds both the cast and the sparse audience hostage.

Shot in only six days, this compact comedy (it barely clears the hour mark) doesn’t go easy on either side. Because he bought a ticket then endured a long journey to the theater, Yannick feels entitled to be entertained, and has a certain smugness about it. The play’s snotty actors, meanwhile, clearly consider their foe a proletarian rube and airily patronize him. A funnier skirmish from the culture-war front would be hard to find — and then Dupieux provides a final twist dabbed with unexpected emotion.

Yannick
Not Rated. In French, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 7 minutes. Watch on Mubi.

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