22nd May2024

‘Yannick’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Stars: Raphaël Quenard, Pio Marmaï, Blanche Gardin, Sébastien Chassagne, Agnès Hurstel, Jean-Paul Solal, Laurent Nicolas | Written and Directed by Quentin Dupieux

With a lengthy directorial career since the early 2000s, French director Quentin Dupieux has made a name for himself as an interesting surrealist. It helps that his unique takes on relatable issues are quick watches, with films rarely lasting longer than 80 minutes, and Yannick is a fascinating example of what the creative delivers so effectively.

Dupieux’s twelfth feature opens with a play entitled The Cuckold, as three actors perform on-stage to a half-empty room. While the consistent laughs make it clear that the audience is enjoying the play, the performance is interrupted by Yannick (Raphaël Quenard), a night watchman who stands up to share his displeasure. His reasonings are that he took a day off work and travelled an hour to see this play, yet it does not provide him an escape from his everyday woes.

The scene grows from fascinating to increasingly uncomfortable as everybody asks Yannick to leave, although the titular man feels that his criticisms are not being heard. After he is escorted from the theatre, the mockery continues courtesy of the three actors on stage, which results in Yannick returning armed with a gun.

With their murderous leads railing against the system with rants and guns, films like Falling Down and Joker unintentionally provided an aspirational figure to some men. What writer/director Dupieux has created feels like the antithesis to these accidental idols, while resembling a figure reflective of this age where creatives can be scolded on social media about their work.

Despite claiming that he is acting out against elitism, the titular character is actually intent on regaining control after nobody took his disruptions seriously. Ever since he announces himself in spite of others’ enjoyment, the figure seems pitiful as his plans require impractical means. At heart, Quenard captures a lonely person who does not want to be the butt of the jokes. He longs for a connection and to make others laugh, although the forcible way he attempts that goes down unfavourably, with the inclusion of a gun only exacerbating issues by sending the power to the wielder’s head.

While some of Dupieux’s films can feel like the ideas do not sustain the runtime, Yannick is an effective satire on the constant need for validation, criticism, and the idea of “the customer is always right.” One wishes that the laughs were more consistent, although it is an effective reminder that it does not matter how our ideas turn out, as the consequences will be waiting for us.

**** 4/5


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