Mascarade (2022)

The fourth film of writer/director Nicolas Bedos could be described as “…disturbing and ultimately damning portrayal of a decadent society”. 

Set in present-day Nice, Mascarade (2022) tells of scheming plots to rid some rich folk of their wealth by a couple of attractive non-achievers who believe they are owed the lifestyle only these riches can afford.

According to Bedos’s vision, things haven’t changed much in 250 years. The “decadent society” he creates is “disturbing” and he portrays it in damning style. But the quote comes from a Penguin publishers’ blurb announcing the re-print of a famous book.

Les Liaisons Dangeureuse, by Pierre Choderlos de-Laclos, was published in 1782 in France.

Better known to moviegoers as Dangerous Liaisons (1988), admirably brought to screen by Stephen Frears, the tale involves “a scheming widow and her manipulative ex-lover make a bet regarding the corruption of a recently married woman”. 

This quote comes from the IMDb website description of Dangerous Liaisons (1988).

The sinister duo, played by Glenn Close and John Malkovich, are different to some of the Mascarade participants in that they are wealthy and want to humiliate the pretty and the up-and-coming. Most characters have the wealth, it is merely boredom or jealousy that drives them.

In Mascarade the schemers are Adrien (Pierre Niney) and Margot (Marine Vacth), he a former dancer and gigolo to Martha (Isabelle Adjani). Margot is a prostitute in all but name, seducing wealthy, lecherous men.


The film begins with Adrien and a pregnant Margot preparing to do a runner after respectively and successfully relieving Martha and local real estate owner Simon (Francois Cluzet) of most of their money. 

When Margot answers a knock at the door, she is shot by Simon, who flees.

We then see the courtroom where Simon is on trial. How this has come to pass is unwoven with the help of witnesses for the prosecution and defence.

Gradually the tale unfolds. Adrien and Margot meet and fall in love at one of Martha’s parties and hatch their plot. They want a house like Martha’s. Margot knows how to get it. 

With help from a former lover-sponsor of Adrien’s, Guilia (Laura Morante), targets are identified and the two young lovers begin their plan.

It is insidious. The targets aren’t purely idle rich. Martha, once a huge star, is mounting a successful comeback and Simon works his business hard and has building and development standards which are to be applauded.

However, no one in this film comes out clean. They are all scheming and manipulative. Most viewers won’t like any of them.

More detail of the outcome would ruin it for those who haven’t seen it. Enough to say, hints of how it will finish are dropped through the movie.

For this reviewer, it is only when the ending happens that these hints were identified. For that Bedos deserves credit. 

Apart from the Les Liaisons Dangeureuse connection, Mascarade is also a parable of the wide division between the super rich and the poor. These people are coming to take what’s yours.

It suggests that the young poor (Adrien and Margot) feel they are owed the wealth of the established rich (Martha and Simon). Working for it will take too long. Instant reward is the target.

If there is a “victim” in Mascarade it is men. Historically, they have done what they wanted with women and discarded them when it suited. Bedos has used both sides of this equation but there is a strong suggestion he believes man’s time has finished?

The women are coming to take what’s yours.

Mascarade is an overlong film but when you’re the director and the writer it gives you some leeway in the cutting room.

The movie held my interest for most of its 134-minute duration. As I tried to analyse where it could have been cut, some of the courtroom scenes and Adrien’s almost-stalking of Margot during their plan came to mind.

Then I realised this is where the denouement was cryptically explained.

ISABELLE ADJANI as Martha in Mascarade

Score: 4

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close