Monday 15 April 2024

Mubi Monday: Yannick (2023)

Writer-director Quentin Dupieux has been doing great work for some time now, using the medium of film to have lots of fun and probe at the boundaries between audience and artist. Often using some wonderfully surreal premises, he is an acquired taste I have tended to always enjoy.

The starting point for Yannick is a stage play. Our lead character, the titular Yannick (Raphaël Quenard) is unhappy with it. He has travelled to see it, made it the centrepiece of his day off from work, and it is not distracting him from his own issues. We know this when he stands up to inform the three stage actors of this. One thing leads to another, and eventually leads to Yannick holding the actors and audience hostage as they work together to improve the play and give everyone a much better experience.

Clocking in at just over an hour in length (67 minutes is the full runtime, which includes credits), Yannick is a smart and intelligent look at the relationship between, yes, the audience and the artist. Dupieux is looking at a different facet of that relationship though, and I couldn’t help but view this as an exploration of the many recent incidents we have seen where fandoms turn toxic. Being a fan of something, or even just wanting to be a fan of something that doesn’t live up to your expectations and/or standards, doesn’t entitle you to attempt any kind of hostile takeover. Feedback and collaboration are both important, but it should all be for the right reasons, and at the right time. That might just be me though, and it is a stance not necessarily supported by the third act of this film, which may show Dupieux simply underlining how creators shouldn’t be averse to contributions from those with different viewpoints.

Wherever he lands on the issue, Dupieux does a great job of presenting a scenario that gives viewers plenty to chew on. Feeling very much like a play itself, the film benefits from the short runtime, being so densely packed with great dialogue and ideas, as much as it benefits from the casting.

While Pio Marmaï, Blanche Gardin, and Sébastien Chassagne are all very good in their roles, the actors in the play who are frustrated, angered, and scared at various times throughout the process of reworking their material, Quenard does a fantastic job of making his character feel unpredictable, and potentially dangerous, without ever seeming despicable. I recently enjoyed Quenard’s performance in Junkyard Dog, but this very different role has shown me that he is someone I definitely want to see as a lead in more movies.

Typically playful and thought-provoking, Yannick is another excellent work from Dupieux that will easily please fans of his style. It might even work well as a starting point for those who have yet to explore his filmography (the dialogue and dynamic crystallizing his main themes in a way that is more digestible than it is in some of his other films). Highly recommended, but mainly to people who will already have at least some inkling of what Dupieux likes to do.


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  1. Sounds like the elevator pitch could have been, "It's like Misery meets Money Monster!"

    Anyway, there is that narcissistic tendency of the audience to expect a creator to make something the way they expect it. I have a few times gotten reviews from someone who says, "I wanted a story like this..." or "I thought this was..." Like one who for some reason thought a story about the Fountain of Youth would be a time travel story. Or quite a few complain that a story was "mean" or "dark" and from the description on Amazon it should have been clear it wasn't going to be a sunny feel-good story. Fortunately none have taken me hostage yet.

    A lot of people don't understand the obvious: the creator doesn't know you. The creator isn't you. Therefore the creator cannot instinctively make something to your exact specifications. There is more of a Venn diagram where there's an overlap between what the audience wants and what the creator does, but it's almost never going to be 100% overlap.

    1. It isn't as bleak as either of those, but Misery meets Money Monster is now a film I want to see.