Farce, to me, occupies a place between the Shakespearean comedies of people falling in love and the modern romcom. False Confessions is a twenty-first century update of an eighteenth century French farce. If it seems stagy it is because of more than just its historical roots. It was partially filmed in a theatre during the day at the same place that the cast was performing the play in the evenings.
Araminte (Isabelle Huppert) is a wealthy widow. She hires Dorante (Louis Garrel), a young man who is smitten with her, as her personal secretary. As her mother makes plans to connect her to a count who needs her money, Dorante and some of Araminte’s servants make plans to facilitate her falling in love with Dorante. At times it seems like a scam might be in the works, but in the end it is all about finding love in unexpected ways.
As in modern romantic comedies, the story revolves around the vagaries of falling in love. The upstairs/downstairs aspect of the story, as well as the inclusion of nobility into the mix reflect a world that doesn’t quite fit with the modern-day setting. The original play comes from a time before democracy and egalitarianism. The class consciousness that the original play exploited is not really evident in this film, which makes it lose it edge.
Photos courtesy of Big World Pictures