False Confessions is the late director Luc Bondy’s paean to the French actress Isabelle Huppert, based on Marivaux’s 18th-century play Les Fausses Confidences. In it, he dreams up countless ways to frame and light her face like a screen goddess from the golden age of cinema. (After Paul Verhoeven savaged her body and soul in last year’s Elle, it’s no wonder Huppert accepted the role of Araminte.) The camera does nothing but flatter her, and deservedly so.
Departing from the original text, Bondy erases her age by providing her with a love interest some 30 years her junior. As the stoic Dorante, Louis Garrel holds his Gallic head in profile like a classical statue brought to life. Initially, he’s meant to be a handsome fortune hunter only after Araminte’s riches. But when he’s faced with an impassioned Huppert, she disarms him. She’s a divine force, akin to Aphrodite and entirely irresistible. When the false confessions of the film’s title arrive in various epistles, they provide ample opportunities for misunderstandings between major and minor characters alike. Decisions are eternally debated and then deferred. This verbosity adds an emotional airlessness to the action, a cloistering effect. If you’re in the mood for idol-worship, however, not even the expected, bathetic climax should deter you from adoring this less inscrutable version of La Huppert.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza.