Original title:Mascarade
Director:Nicolas Bedos
Running time:134 minutes
Release date:Not communicated
When a young gigolo falls under the spell of a sublime hustler, it is the beginning of a Machiavellian plan under the hot sun of the French Riviera. Are the two lovers ready to do anything to give themselves a dream life, even if it means sacrificing that of a former movie star and a real estate agent? Passions, crimes, betrayals... After Mr. and Mrs. Adelman and La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos makes a mockery of the cruel world of money and delivers a new sentimental fresco.

Mulder's Review

"This is the adaptation of the book that I tried in vain to write for a year and which recounted in a very fictionalized way a rather distressing period of my life, around the age of 23, when I was drowning in idleness and other people's money. Let's say it's the story of a loser maintained by older women who falls in love with a loser maintained by older guys, their affair leading to a vast love manipulation. It is also the story of a muted war between the sexes and generations. And then it's the very subjective portrait I wanted to make of the French Riviera, whose name is associated in my mind as much with Francis Scott Fitzgerald and the eccentricity of a decadent elite as with the omnipresence, not so long ago, of Russian oligarchs, their magnum of champagne in the sun and their competition of real estate vulgarities."

The cinema has a power of fascination and escape without limit if it is made with care and a willingness to leave the beaten path of popular and commercial films that too often lack the vision of a real director. Certainly Nicolas Bedos has managed to build a virtually perfect filmography (we will forget OSS 117: Red Alert in Black Africa (2021)) with carefully written films and real memorable moments of cinema as in Mr. and Mrs. Adelman (2017), La Belle Époque (2019). The influence of American cinema can be felt in each of his films and one can imagine this director growing up discovering many films from which he drank to write his own scripts and then come to direct. His new film Mascarade is certainly his best to date. His writing has become more refined, the maturity of his directing has made him one of the most gifted directors of his generation, and above all his film is brimming with a true love of modern cinema. There is a modern approach in Mascarade that reflects a sort of revisited adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons.

On the French Riviera, the wealthy class seems to parade endlessly and spend without counting the cost, and especially to show that with money everything can be bought. However, in this luxurious world, some people seem to play a game according to their own rules in order to gain a position in which they can have access to everything even if it means manipulating the people around them. On the one hand, there is a gigolo who has become the plaything of a great actress who lives on her myth by only being able to perform plays in theaters far from the movie sets that made her rich and famous. There is also a luxury call-girl who seems to lead the men by her great beauty. When these two people meet, a real love affair is born and also the promise to set up a nice scam with the help of the gigolo's ex who also wants to settle some personal scores before leaving the French Riviera. The main victims of their machiavellian plan will be this renowned actress and a rich real estate agent who has always wanted to remain honest.

The director and screenwriter Nicolas Bodas has taken great care to write a script that is as perfect as the great American thrillers and comedies and has surrounded himself, as in his previous films, with a perfect cast, whether it be Pierre Niney as the gigolo (we will never say how much he represents the future of French cinema and is certainly one of the best actors today), Marine Vacth as a femme fatale, Isabelle Adjani as an actress living on her myth, François Cluzet as a rich real estate agent (perfect in each of his roles) and in the important supporting roles Emmanuelle Devos, Laura Morante and Charles Berling. Nicolas Bedos conceived his film as a life-size chess game in which he advances his two main pawns in a field in which illusions are numerous and beautifully demonstrate that it is money and sex that rule the world today and that some people are ready to do anything to get their place in the sun.

After the nostalgia of the golden age of cinema in La Belle Epoque (2019), the new film by Nicolas Bedos shot in the middle of a pandemic is much darker and points the finger at the failings of our society. This director has developed through his first films an important critical eye towards a society in which he seems at times to be a free electron. He draws his script from a novel he had drafted and from a part of his personal experience, he comes out with a film that constantly rings true despite an undeniable satire of the wealthy milieu of the French Riviera. When discovering his film, one will also be reminded of certain classics of the 50s such as Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch A Thief (1955). It is no coincidence that the film begins with a quote from Somerset Maugham about the artificial world of the French Riviera. 

The structure of the film is also like a chess game with a trial in the background, which is also a way to show the shortcomings of the wealthy class of the French Riviera and the fact that to survive in such a world you have to know how to put your ego aside and use the assets that nature has given us. The pleasure taken on screen by the actors is clearly visible and once again the actor Pierre Niney asserts himself as a brilliant actor capable of playing everything while remaining true.  Surrounded by excellent actresses, Isabelle Adjani, Marine Vacth, Emmanuelle Devos and Laura Morante, he gives his character of gigolo a real consistency marked by perfectly brought dialogues. 

Written and directed by Nicolas Bedos
Produced by François Kraus, Denis Pineau-Valencienne
Starring Pierre Niney, Isabelle Adjani, François Cluzet, Marine Vacth, Emmanuelle Devos, Laura Morante, Charles Berling , Christiane Millet, James Wilby, Nicolas Briançon, Bruno Raffaelli, Philippe Uchan, Daniel Hanssens, Bérangère McNeese, Marie Zabukovec, Yann Lerat, Jean Vincentelli 
Music by Nicolas Bedos, Anne-Sophie Versnaeyen
Cinematography : Laurent Tangy
Edited by Anny Danché
Production companies : Les Films du kiosque, Orange Studio, Pathé
Distributed by Pathé Distribution (France), Orange Studio (international)
Release date : November 1, 2022 (France)
Running time : 134 minutes

Seen on October 20, 2022 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 3 seat A19

Mulder's Mark: