Director: Nicolas Bedos | Script: Nicolas Bedos | Cast: Pierre Niney (Adrien Saillard), Marine Vacth (Margot Hansen), Isabelle Adjani (Martha Duval), François Cluzet (Simon Laurenti), others | Time to play: 134 minutes | Year: 2022
The French Riviera heats up Masquerade. That setting provides something tangible in a cop comedy about deception. On the coast, former dancer Adrien makes a living dating wealthy older women. He now has the turn of the retired actress Martha, in whose house he supposedly works on his novel. During a party, however, he meets headstrong con artist Margot and soon the spark spreads for her. Together they devise a plan to make money from both Martha and unsuspecting elderly real estate agent Simon.
Not everything goes according to plan, so late Masquerade know by centering the story around a shooting and the court case that followed. The eyewitness accounts give an impression of the characters, but in keeping with the film’s title, the question remains to what extent they are correct. Adrien and Margot play a love game, also towards each other. The calculation with which Margot follows the instructions of a socialite to seduce the real estate agent could also be applied to Adrien.
Prevent Cluzets screams gloomy runner and such a sketchy figure turns out to be easy to manipulate according to a step-by-step plan. Like any other character, he too always remains on the surface. Filmmaker Nicolás Bedos exploits stereotypes for comic effect. Particularly surprising is the first meeting between Adrien and Margot, with a flashy talk about a stolen necklace and a bizarre ride in a stolen car. Adjani, for her part, plays the tragicomic role of Martha with experienced coldness and arouses in him the greatest empathy.
Niney also starred in an Adrien frantz, where he impressed with his tenderness. As a veteran who begins a complex relationship with the widow of an enemy he brought down, he gave that film the option to explore fragile love. In Masquerade with his meek gaze, he does not find the balance for a character who on the one hand envelops someone, but also envelops himself. In his appearance as a meek lamb, the film shows how he cynically views love as a weapon within the management of carefully selected impressions to deceive the other.
With their shallow motivations, Adrien and Margot rarely feel like a couple, making Margot’s frustrations about men seem fake. Her desire for a beautiful home feels as strong as the sun shining on a resplendent Nice. Cinematographer Laurent Tangy keeps the momentum going throughout the retrospectives with a clever shot here and there. But the movie flaunts that style for a hip twist. The usual suspects. Comedy is still too sporadic to comment on all the manipulations. It is mainly about the thrill of crime on the Riviera, with which Masquerade sing a false note.