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Cannes: Greta Gerwig, Lily Gladstone and the Weight of Politics at the Fest

Early on in the meta French comedy “The Second Act,” which was opening the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday night, a father (Vincent Lindon) and daughter (Léa Seydoux) are sitting in his car and chatting about her boyfriend. But just a few lines into the scene, Lindon cracks and refuses to perform it.

As he leaves the car to stalk across a field, Seydoux pursues him and tries to continue running their lines. But he is undeterred, claiming the current state of the world is too dire for light comedy.

“You’ll carry on as if nothing was wrong, as if everything was fine and dandy?” Lindon says to her. “Mankind is nearly done, and you want to play my daughter in an indie movie?”

Though the festival has only just begun, the question of how much the outside world should intrude on cinema has become a pertinent one. At a meeting with the news media on Monday, the Cannes artistic director, Thierry Frémaux, was peppered with so many queries about real-world issues — from the war in Gaza to the #MeToo controversies currently swirling in the French film industry — that he snapped, insisting that he would prefer Cannes to stand apart from such things.

“We’re trying to have a festival without this polemical aspect,” Frémaux said. “We’re very careful to maintain that the reason people come here is because of the cinema.”

That may be, but the real world can still be felt here: For two weeks, Cannes is a bubble, but a bubble can be popped.

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