Watching the French movie Masquerade (Mascarade) requires a high degree of concentration thanks to the number of twists and turns.
It’s easy to get a little lost or confused thanks to a plot which features plenty of double crossing and betrayal.
But then that elaborate storyline adds to the movie’s appeal and possibly an ‘oh’ at the end.
Masquerade opens with couple Adrien (Pierre Niney) and Margot (Marine Vacth) getting ready in a luxurious French Riviera hotel room. They are obviously planning something, given their donning of disguises and conversation. Margot answers a knock on the door and is shot, confirming they are no ordinary couple.
The film then jumps to the trial of the man responsible for her shooting, wealthy real estate agent Simon (François Cluzet). Gradually through the testimony of those at the trial and flashbacks we learn of the events which led to Margot’s shooting.
We discover Adrien is a former dancer, seriously injured in an accident, who now makes a living `servicing the needs’ of older wealthy women.
His latest companion is highly strung renowned French actress Martha Duval (Isabelle Adjani) who is struggling with her age and relevance.
There’s plenty of friction between the two with Martha often upset and angry with Adrien. But both seemingly benefit from the relationship.
Things change when Adrien meets Margot, a beautiful woman who makes a living as an escort, con artist and thief. She’s a far greater risk taker than Adrien, as shown by her actions when they first meet at a party hosted by Martha.
The two seemingly fall in love and hatch a scheme to escape their current professions, be wealthy and be together.
Their plan is to entice a wealthy married man to leave his wife and marry Margot. Helping them is one of Adrien’s former lovers and now close friend Giulia (Laura Morante) who suggests the seemingly happily married Simon.
While the plan is initially successful it goes astray when Simon refuses to marry Margot and ends with her shooting.
But then as the name suggests, nothing in Masquerade is straight forward.
What is evident is the quality of the acting with all the leads believable in roles that aren’t all that appealing. Both Niney and Vacth’s characters are unlikable and manipulative while Adjani’s Martha is strong willed at times and rather sad and unpleasant at others.
Cluzet’s Simon is rather naïve while Morante’s Giulia delivers some of the most insightful lines when explaining to Margot how to seduce Simon.
Masquerade opens with the quote from W Somerset Maugham: “The French Riviera is a sunny place for shady people.” The film’s writer and director, Nicolas Bedos, ensures his latest offering supports this view.
Masquerade is showing in cinemas from May 4.
- movie, review
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