Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ah, Marivaux! Luc Bondy's adaptation of the playwright's 1737 piece, FALSE CONFESSIONS

Pierre de Marivaux. While the very name will send some of you heading for the hills, those of us who love the work of this 18th-Century French playwright will take note and get in line. TrustMovies has yet to see a movie made from this fellow's work -- from the current FALSE CONFESSIONS to the Cesar-winning L'Esquive, Benoît Jacquot's brilliant La Fausse Suivant, and The Triumph of Love (both Clare Peploe's film and the Broadway musical derived from the Marivaux play) -- that he did not enjoy, and this newest example proves no exception.

As co-directed (with Marie-Louise Bischofberger) and co-written (with Geoffrey Layton) by the noted and late legitimate-theater director Luc Bondy (shown at left), the movie succeeds surprisingly well in bringing Marivaux into the 21st Century -- certainly sets and costume-wise (below), as well as regarding the play's themes of falsity, love, betrayal, class and caring.

To the uninitiated, the dialog will sound a bit too formal, but this should soon pass, for the classy, attractive cast assembled here carries it all off with a high degree of precision, humor and fine style.

What may turn some people off, however, is Marivaux's constant preoccupation with the philosophy behind the feelings and actions of his characters, who often stop to analyze it all. But for some of us, this will be part of -- perhaps much of -- the fun, as it certainly must have been for the author himself.

The story is piffle, as is often case with Marivaux: merely an excuse to set things off and watch them spin out of control, only to be brought back on track via the "morality of love."  Here, the tale told is one of a handsome young man who has been recommend as a secretary to a well-fixed lady who is simultaneously involved in a possible lawsuit and a would-be love relationship that might just repair that lawsuit.

The leading roles of lady and secretary are played by French icon Isabelle Huppert (above, right) and by now near-icon Louis Garrel, (above, left) and both are quite good -- which is expected of course from Ms Huppert but perhaps will come as more of a surprise to those of us who've not seen M. Garrel play a classier part with such exacting reticence, stature and charm.

In the supporting cast are Bulle Ogier (below), as well as Bernard Verley, Fred Ulysse and others, all of whom brings their characters to bright, specific, scintillating life. The finale conflates movies with theater, but that we've seen that done often enough to not find it so special. What is special is the dialog, the philosophy, and the performances. And that should be enough for any dyed-in-the-wool Marivaux-ian to savor.

From Big World Pictures, in French with English subtitles, and running 82 minutes, the movie opens in theaters this Friday, July 14, in New York City at the Angelika Film Center and the Lincoln Plaza Cinema; on July 21 in Los Angeles (at Laemmle's Royal) and Chicago (at the Gene Siskel Film Center), and here in the Miami area on August 4 at the Tower Theater. To see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters, click here and scroll down.

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