Masquerade [Mascarade] — Alliance Française French Film Festival 2023

Review by John P. Harvey.

Since early interruption of a promising dancing career by injury, Adrien (Pierre Niney) has found that he can live on the gifts that come to a young man attractive to older wealthy women.  He finds his current patroness in film star Martha Duval (Isabelle Adjani), who has kept her beautiful looks through self-discipline but fears the future.  Young, sensuous Margot (Marine Vacth) has been living a lifestyle similar to Adrien’s, finding older men who can’t resist her beauty and sexual freedom.

It’s while pursuing their respective “careers” that Margot and Adrien collide.  The consequent fireworks may mean that they’re meant for each other, but, unluckily for them, they’re both reliant on their youth, allure, and sexuality to keep them in luxury.  But keeping their current meal tickets happy is becoming an increasingly onerous task.  It is especially so for Adrien as Margot’s demands and nastiness increase.  What can they do?  Eventually, they come up with a plan to ensure their financial futures and clear the path to joint happiness, but it will take some adroit manoeuvring.

Masquerade takes us, via many turns, into a rich world of relationships expressing love, resentment, greed, and treachery, via clever plotting, character complexity, and layers of revelatory meaning.  A clever film, beautifully performed, very well executed, and cinematically superb, it’s sure to build a huge appreciative audience.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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