Mereghetti’s report card: Léa Seydoux, the obscure object of desire at the center of «Tromperie» (score: 8)-

from Paul Mereghetti

At the origin of Arnaud Desplechin’s film is a novel by Philip Roth, The Deception. The protagonists are an American writer and his English lover: the life of both is gradually revealed through words

Shape the words. Transform the dialogues into cinema. This is perhaps the greatest challenge a director can face. Even more ambitious, then, if at the origin there is a text by Philip Rothcertainly one of the great novelists of the second half of the twentieth century (and in front of whom the attempt to reduce American pastoral care).

Arnauld Desplechinwho with Rothian themes – the boundary between reality and fiction, the ambiguity of the narrator, the importance of the word – had already flirted in the past, chooses with Tromperie (but why leave the original French title in Italian too?) to compete with a 1990 novel, Deceptionorwhich on the one hand offers the advantage of a novel plot reduced to a minimum (the protagonist writer, Philip, tells a series of female dating and not) but precisely because it is based above all on the strength and role of the word it does not allow to get around the problem of its own cinematic formof how dialogues become cinema.

And how they don’t even become theater should be added, because all the duo scenes that make up the book don’t recall the meeting opportunities but record the dialogues that Philip has every time with one or the other of his interlocutors, whom he loved or loves, but of whom he reports the words and not the actions. Or rather, whose actions can only be guessed through the dialogues that often they recall the past or, in the case of his English mistress, they ramble or circle around their relationship. The film explains it perfectly right from the first scene, when a young English woman (La Seydoux) addresses the viewer directly while sitting in a sort of dressing room for makeup and confesses that he doesn’t even want to say his name while recounting the relationship he is living with one american writerPhilip (Denis Podalyds), ​​temporarily transferred to London.

A relationship of which above all we feel the confidencesdiscovering thethe
unhappy marriage of her, mother of a child who doesn’t quite know how much you love, and the nonchalant infidelity of him, but that we see only once, and briefly, really making love. For the rest we listen to their speeches, halfway between her personal confessions (for her) and hers professional reflections (of him, who sometimes writes down his lover’s sentences). This story, which opens and closes the film, interspersed with other small chapters, where Philip talks to women he probably loved — a Czechoslovakian refugee (Madalina Constantin), a friend in America struggling with cancer (Emmanuelle Devos), a former student of his (Rebecca Marder), his wife (Anouk Grinberg) — but also with a director friend (Miglen Mirtchev) and with his father (Andr Oumansky).

Sometimes the people come back, sometimes the meeting ends at once, sometimes Philip talks facts of your life, sometimes it is his interlocutors who do it. Thus a kind of intimate multi-voice diary is composed where the English lover has the most important role, but where everyone contributes to a kind of philosophical reflection on the subject of fidelity and infidelity (not only towards the partner, but more generally towards one’s own desires and their own ambitions), with in the center theimportance of the word and its possibilities nuances and variations.

An ambition that would not have taken shape without it a direction of actors absolutely perfect. Led by La Seydoux and Denis Podalyds, but with a special mention for Emmanuelle Devosall the cast act in a surprising state of graceable to use dialogues for convey emotions (without resorting to what they say but only how they say it: for this reason the original subtitled version is obligatory!) that the panoramic photography by Yorik Le Saux manages to enclose in an equally emotional embrace despite having to film faces and not the landscapes for which that format was created. And giving back to the viewer the question that crosses the whole film: what is true or invented in the twelve chapters that make up this one deceit?

April 25, 2022 (change April 26, 2022 | 11:51 am)

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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