The Directors’ Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival has provided some strong picks this year, including French heist comedy The World Is Yours which was rousingly received. The second feature from Romain Gavras (son of Costa-Gavras), who is best known for his music video work with such artists as MIA, Kanye West and Justice, stars Vincent Cassel who appeared in and produced his 2010 debut Our Day Will Come. The collaborators chatted with Deadline this week about the film, riffing on one another and the influence of Italian comedies on this stylish sophomore effort (check out the video above).

The World Is Yours follows François, a small-time drug dealer who wants to call it quits and become the official distributor of the Mr Freeze popsicle brand in North Africa. His dream vanishes when he learns that his mother (Isabelle Adjani) has spent all his life savings. When his boss presents the opportunity of a major drug deal in Spain, François can’t refuse the chance to get his money back. Traveling with him is a pair of dimwit thugs, his gold-digger crush Lamya and Henri (Cassel) a former step-father just out of prison. Nothing, natch, goes to plan.

Cassel notes of the response, “Even though we knew it was a comedy, I was amazed to see how much people laughed really… It seems to be really funny, maybe more than I expected actually.”

This is Cassel’s first time in the Fortnight, having typically appeared in Competition or the main Official Selection. He says the experience was eye-opening. “I realized that it’s more like an underground, kind of growing kind of cinema. I could even say that I feel there seems to be a little competition between the Official Selection and the Quinzaine. I felt that this movie was a little bit in the balance of that and it felt good.”

The World Is Yours makes clear reference to Scarface, but is also a sort of anti-Scarface. What were Gavras’ influences? “The major influence I would say would be like those Italian comedies from the 60s and 70s” including Mario Monicelli’s Big Deal On Madonna Street and Ettore Scola’s Ugly, Dirty And Bad.

Says Gavras, “Basically those Italian comedies had a lot of characters, were quite light but had hints that they were playing with serious topics and topics that are usually sad or more like for a genre movie. But they were bringing that light tone and voice to it that really appeals to me.”

For Cassel, “This is the ultimate reference too like what happened in Italy between let’s say the 40s and 70s is what’s most important in cinema. So the way they treated social topics in a very light way with profound and beautiful and very human characters but in a popular way was to me like the ultimate goal.”

The World Is Yours also stars Karim Leklou, Oulaya Amamra and François Damiens. It releases in France in August. Studiocanal is handling sales.