False Confessions (2016) [Les fausses confidences]


Cast includes: Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Louis Garrel (Regular Lovers), Bulle Ogier (The Gang of Four), Yves Jacaues (Laurence Anyways), Barnard Verley (Lady Chatterley), Manon Combes (Two Friends)
Director: Luc Bondy (Das weite Land, Pornography)
Genre: Comedy | Romance | Light Drama (82 minutes) French with subtitles


Huffington Post

“Please be so kind as to sit for a while.” Since Madame Araminte is still doing her tai chi, she is not yet ready to meet with Dorante. “No one must know that I know you,” cautions Dubois, as he and Dorante whisper about the plan for Dorante to woo and marry Araminte. Dorante’s uncle, Monsieur Rémy has made the introduction. Yet, even with an inheritance from his uncle… which is by no means assured… Dorante is too low in status to be a credible suitor for the rich widow. Dorante’s only asset is his striking good looks, which are commented upon by all. Monsieur Rémy encourages Dorante to also woo Araminte’s friend Marton so she can put in a good word. Rémy suggests as a fall back, Dorante could marry Marton instead… she’s fairly well off and lives in the same house. In fact, Rémy feels this could be a better plan… certainly easier than trying to win the beautiful Araminte, who is completely out of his league.

Araminte’s mother, Madame Argante, finds the young man wholly unsuited for the position of a private secretary… he’s far too nice looking. “A secretary doesn’t have to be an eye sore,” says Araminte and hires him. Dorante’s hiring causes a bit of disruption in the house, but his first real challenge is the issue of Comte Dorimont and the land dispute with Araminte. Madame Argante is encouraging her daughter to accept the count’s marriage proposal, and thereby avoid the possibility of losing a lawsuit. Dorante believes Araminte’s case is strong and there’s no need to take such a drastic step. In the meantime, Dubois decides to advance the plot by secretly letting Araminte know that Dorante is smitten with her. In another meantime, Rémy secretly tells Marton the same thing. With all the intrigue, Dorante is seen as a love sick and unusually honest young man. “I’m so tired of people deceiving me,” says Araminte… “I’m not angry [at Dorante for failing to confess his love]. I can restore this man.”

Although the film is set in the 21st century, it’s a recreation of the 1737 play by Pierre de Marivaux. The play, recently staged at the Théâtre de l’Odéon with the same cast, was directed by Luc Bondy, an acclaimed director of theater and opera. During the run of the play, Bondy and the cast also created a film version using the Théâtre de l’Odéon for many of the sets. The film version is not simply a recreation of the play but a clever dialog between different but related art forms. Sadly, Bondy died before the completion of the film, and his wife Marie-Louise Bischofberger was instrumental in its completion. French audiences will no doubt appreciate the intersection between the famous 18th century play with a 21st century movie. Knowing the origins can help American audiences appreciate the ingenuity of it as well. The narrative is full of irony, deception, misunderstandings and clever surprises along the way. Don’t expect every little detail to make sense… “Oh no, you mustn’t!”

popcorn rating

3 popped kernels

Modern version of an 18th century French romantic comedy by Marivaux

Popcorn Profile

Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Art House
Mood: Upbeat
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: French play
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment & Thought Provoking

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