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An evening at the Hébertot theater or at the Bouffes Parisiens, finally an evening at the theater in Paris. A trio of actors on stage perform a boulevard play. Their acting is so exaggerated that it becomes indigestible (there is also talk of a bowel problem). We cringe while sitting through it, and the climax seems to be the dilemma: will or won’t he open the fridge door.
Finally, Yannick, who gives his name to the film, and is played brilliantly by Raphaël Quenard, intervenes with his strong voice to relieve us by interrupting the play from his seat in the audience. God is gracious: Yannick stops our suffering and triggers the action.
For his latest film Yannick, Quentin Dupieux, a musician under the pseudonym of Mr. Oizo, who articulates his creations around the notion of ‘big nonsense’, and a prolific director of more than thirteen feature films since 2001’s Nonfilm (a satire of the filmmaking process) does not tell the story of a tire (Rubber), a jacket (Deerskin), a fly (Mandibles) or an increasingly curling mustache (Daaaaaali!, soon to premiere at the Venice Film Festival) but chooses to respect the rules of classical theater, with three unities: of place, time and action.
Within this framework and following a story developed over five acts, from exposition to denouement, he chisels vitriolic dialogue with admirably precise writing, immersing us in each experienced situation within this closed space that is the theater. We are at turns public, actor, or joker. It is the ambivalence of each of these positions and the dynamic, or rather the ferocity, of the relationships that are dissected there.
From one moment to another, the situation oscillates between absurd, comic or tragic, and the great timeless reflections on the art of spectacle emerge. Is a play a distraction, or art? Is it inconsistent? Is a play (or a film?) necessarily a show and is it intended or required to entertain the public?
This mise en abyme of performance sheds a harsh light on the violence of human relationships, as cruel on the theater stage as in the audience seats. There is no intermission in the form of a truce. The film, on the shorter side, is to be experienced in one go. Between the gasps of laughter while reading the play written by Yannick, which recalls the creativity of Jean Tardieu's play Un mot pour un autre, the camera offers a single moment of sweetness.
This is the first intimate scene given to us: Yannick, backstage, overwhelmed with communicative emotion. Because how can you not cry in front of this “disease much more serious and more widespread in our society, this (…) lovesickness”?