The Second Act (2024) CANNES FILM FESTIVAL

May 13th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Quentin Dupieux | Cast: Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Louis Garrel, Raphael Quenard | France Comedy | 80′

Best known for his ‘zany’ comedies (The Deerskin, Incredible But True) writer director Quentin Dupieux gets the opening slot at this year’s 77th Edition of the CANNES FILM FESTIVAL with his latest The Second Act that follows a group of bored actors on the edge of a nervous breakdown. The task here is trying to make their boredom funny, and Dupieux doesn’t quite pull it off.

The film stars Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon and Louis Garrel (who has recently turned his talents to comedy) and the action revolves in the confines of The Second Act, a diner in the middle of nowhere, where Garrel is David, the love interest of Seydoux’s character Florence who is keen to introduce him to her father (Lindon) as ‘the man of her life’. Problem is, David doesn’t really fancy her and tries to get his friend Willy (Quenard) involved. But Willy isn’t convinced.

When they all eventually sit down together the bickering continues between their characters in the film being made and the actors they play in the actual film. There’s an inspired scene where the waiter (Manuel Guillot), clearly a lonely depressive, tries to serve them an expensive Cote du Rhone, but, due to stage fright, manages to spill it everywhere but in the glasses.

The Second Act is occasionally funny and Dupieux’s script full of good ideas and topical themes such as sexuality and racism and also touching on more contemporary subjects like the emergence of AI for budget filmmaking, and the late arrival to the French film industry of cancel culture and the #MeToo movement. But Dupieux just doesn’t know how to bring this all together into a story with a dramatic arc that leads to a satisfactory denouement. Ultimately the film outstays its welcome in a series of amusing skits brilliantly performed by a talented cast who eventually run out of steam with their laborious, receptive dialogues. A missed opportunity with some fun moments. @MeredithTaylor 


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