Tromperie – Deception, review: Desplechin adapts Roth in a neurotic and disturbing film

Tromperie - Léa Seydoux
Tromperie – Léa Seydoux

Our review of Tromperie – Deceptionneurotic bulimic drama of words by Arnaud Desplechin that fits Philip Roth, with Denis Podalydes narcissistic and restless writer e Léa Seydoux disturbing

Neurotic, bulimic of words, capable of finding a poetic balance between a metaphysical inspiration and a carnal adherence to the iridescent reality that flows from the voice of wonderful women. Tromperie – Deception is a manifesto of poetics, a compositional architecture as nervous as lyrically bewitching which marks the meeting of the French director Arnaud Desplechin with the disturbing contradictions of the American writer Philip Roth, author of the novel of the same name on which the film is based. Presented at the Cannes Film Festival 2021 and passed through the Rendez VousFestival of New French Cinema at Moretti’s New Sacher, Tromperie it is a melting pot of ghostly apparitions, flashes of an existence in crisis to be savored in all their bittersweet flavours.

Tromperie - Deception - Léa Seydoux
Tromperie – Deception – Léa Seydoux

Paper women

London, 1987. Philip (Denis Podalydeslisten)) is an American writer who lives in the English capital with his wife (Anouk Grinberg). The dissatisfaction of a sunset wedding drives the novelist to spend whole days in his study in dialogue with a cultured, witty and beautiful thirty-five-year-old girl (Léa Seydoux) in full marital crisis. Soon their exchanges of thoughts turn into an elusive and sensual love story at the same time. Intent on writing a new novel, Philip draws from comparisons with his mistress and from conversations with the most important women in his life, including a bipolar student, a dying friend and a Czech refugee, fragments of stories that jot down in his notebook.

Tromperie - Deception - Denis Podalydès
Tromperie – Deception – Denis Podalydès

Desires and obsessions

Formidable listener, bewitching storyteller, master of dissimulation, Philip is a middle-aged man who tries in every way to cling to his women to escape a fear that haunts him. Illness, advancing age, death. His acrobatic intellectual and sentimental evolutions, disguised as a tool to feed his imagination as a writer, reveal themselves in the course of the film as expedients to exorcise his demons. Here, with the succession of encounters and episodes from which the film is punctuated, real or dreamlike, mediated by the handset of a telephone or consumed in fits of carnality, pieces of a mosaic are revealed destined to lay bare the fragility of an eager intellectual . Sexual desire itself becomes the ultimate manifestation of this need to cling to life, the ultimate obsession of an impotent narcissus.

Tromperie - Deception - Denis Podalydès and Léa Seydoux
Tromperie – Deception – Denis Podalydès and Léa Seydoux

The charm of the word

To amplify the ambiguities of the protagonist is the excellent interpretation of Denis Podalydès who manages to grasp all the idiosyncrasies. Equally captivating are the performances of her supporting actors starting from the wonderful Léa Seydoux who gives her English lover (who has no name) a disturbing neurotic charm and Anouk Grinberg who plays the protagonist’s wife playing on subtraction. The actor’s contribution is fundamental in a chamber film that makes the exchanges between its characters the heart of all its architecture. Tromperie – Indeed, deception it is a film flooded with words, with overlapping voices, with revealing notes. The word captured in its alchemical power becomes the portal for an emotional, sentimental and intellectual encounter that not only preludes a poetic carnal convergence, but penetrates it in a tangle of bodies and speeches wrapped up in camera movements of a fluidity radiated with seductive restlessness .

Here Desplechin’s great deception materializes in a film that plays with cinematic techniques, dances hysterically through montage, wiggles wistfully between sudden fades and zooms. Roth’s literature trepidation finds through Desplechin’s penetrating gaze his ideal, neurasthenic cinematic form of him.

Tromperie – Deception. Directed by Arnaud Desplechin. With Denis Podalydès, Léa Seydoux, Emmanuelle Devos, Anouk Grinberg, Madalina Constantin, Miglen Mirtchev, Rebecca Marder, Saadia Bentaieb, André Oumansky, Gennadiy Fomin, Frédérique Giffard, Ian Turiak, Matej Hofmann and Valerie Thepsouvanh. In cinemas from April 21, distributed by No.Mad Entertainment.


3 and a half stars

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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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