“Masquerade”, the revenge of a gigolo and a scammer

Masquerade **

by Nicolas Bedos

French film, 2 h 14

There are a thousand ways to succeed (or fail) in life. For Adrien, it’s to hook up with Martha, an actress with a glorious past. If she lives in a sumptuous villa on the Côte d’Azur, keeping up the appearances of wealth is more and more complicated for her. Between Adrien and Martha, no love. Three decades of difference and a strict distribution of compositional roles: the star about to return to center stage and her young lover, a future renowned writer who is working on her first novel.

During an evening where Martha deploys all her assets to convince the director of the Nice theater to put her back in the saddle, Adrien meets Margot, the man’s mistress, who leaves the villa with jewels stolen from the actress. She dreams of a big blow that would definitely put her out of need. He’s falling in love.

The very dark description of a cynical and manipulative humanity

From his beginnings as a director, Nicolas Bedos seduced by the skill of his staging and the romance of his stories. Masquerade does not derogate in a dizzying ballet on the Côte d’Azur described as a sinister region “where the very rich are dying of boredom, the rich pretend to be very rich and the others are dying of jealousy”.

He portrays with vitriol false pretences and sad passions by enshrining the stories. After a few idyllic images and a shot, he takes us into a trial where the witnesses follow one another to tell the story of Adrien, Martha, Margot and a few others, secondary at first glance but ultimately crucial. The use of film stock heightens a tone reminiscent of films from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

First book project abandoned because its author was lost, by his own admissionin digressions,Masquerade transformed into a scenario suffers from its narrative richness, even if it manages not to lose its spectators along the way. With the exception of the character played by Emmanuelle Devos, it shows in a very dark light a cynical and manipulative humanity, centered on its desires and its obsession with appearances.

Excellent actors give her flesh without ever managing to make her likeable. Pierre Niney and Marine Vacth embody two lost people battered by life who sell their youth to heal and avenge their wounds. Around them gravitate Isabelle Adjani, François Cluzet and Laura Morante as pathetic figures of a decadent elite, preoccupied only with itself.

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