Friday, April 05, 2024

Dupieux’s Yannick

Everyone is a critic, right? And that is our right, since we buy our tickets. That is certainly how a extremely socially-awkward parking lot night watchman sees it. However, he will take things a step further, by holding the cast and audience hostage, so he can re-write their play in Quentin Dupieux’s Yannick, which releases today on Mubi.

The truth is Yannick is not wrong about the mediocre sex farce he refuses to quietly sit through. Watching it in English subtitles probably does not help, but the jokes are still corny sitcom-level material. Not surprisingly, the sparse audience is only half-heartedly laughing. That is why so many do not object when he interrupts.

At first, the three players treat Yannick like a heckler. They almost convince him to leave, but when the diva-ish Sophie Denis starts mocking his complaints regarding his fifteen-minute walk and forty-five-minute bus commute to arrive at the theater, he pulls out a gun. After commandeering a laptop from a likely perverted patron, Yannick starts writing his own pages for them to play.

Compared to his previous weird and wacky output,
Yannick is by far Dupieux’s most realistic and grounded film to-date. In our current world, where people regularly get accosted on-stage (even during the Oscars), something like this could very well happen. However, Yannick is definitely way out there—in a manner that is very unique to himself (or at least we can only hope).

In fact, it is rather overstating matters to describe the film as meta. There are maybe ironic parallels when the themes of jealousy that drive the corny play-within-the-film resurface during the hostage crisis. Perhaps understandably, Denis’s leading man, Paul Riviere, starts to resent Yannick apparently winning over many in the audience. Stockholm Syndrome will be a factor, probably because the original play was so bad.

has been Dupieux’s biggest box office hit in France, but Mubi is a good distribution fit for it in America, given its limited running time. It barely exceeds one hour, or comes up just shy of sixty minutes, if you exclude the closing credits. Frankly, the shorter, concentrated format suits Dupieux’s eccentric sensibilities. The audience can enjoy Yannick’s absurdity, before the full implications of his actions kill the vibe. You can only sustain Stockholm Syndrome for so long.

Raphael Quenard hits the right note as Yannick—odd and erratic without being sinister or wildly over the top. He knows how to playa Dupieux character, after earning his spurs in
Smoking Causes Coughing and Mandibles. Jean-Paul Solal gets the next most laughs as the angry old theater patron, who has no patience for any of Yannick’s self-justification.

is undeniably off-kilter, but it is oddly fun—and it never outstays its welcome. It is not Dupieux’s best, but it might be his most accessible film. Recommended for those in the mood for a brief interlude of vicarious madness, Yannick starts streaming today (4/5) on Mubi.