The Great Pretender

The lives of a French theater director, her ex-boyfriend, and the two actors playing them intersect dramatically in this tangled and darkly funny roundelay set in the New York theater world.
January 2019

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The Great Pretender

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Director: Nathan Silver

Starring: Maëlle Poésy, Keith Poulson, and Esther Garrel


2018, USA, 72 minutes, Digital, Not Rated

Language: English and French

Distributor: Factory 25

Program Notes

The Great Pretender is a roundelay set in the off-off-Broadway world of New York theatre. Trying to exorcise her past, lovesick French director Mona comes to America to mount a play based on her last relationship: a tumultuous affair with hard living street photographer Nick. For the on-stage rendition of her real-life story, Mona casts seemingly naïve French actress Thérèse to play herself and bumbling Brooklynite Chris to play Nick. Mona develops feelings for Chris, Chris falls madly in love with Mona, while Thérèse falls in love with Chris. The film is told in five chapters, each centered around a different character, culminating in the production of the play.

“Silver has quickly fashioned a diaphanous, loose-limbed style that can seemingly accommodate any subject or ambition. And with The Great Pretender, he burrows further into this aesthetic, creating one of modern American cinema’s great not-quite-romances.”
— Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine

“Director Nathan Silver has a talented eye for portraying damaged, but intriguing people, even when they’re not shown in the most flattering light. His frequent use of close-ups and hazy visuals creates a beautiful fever dream.”
— Kristy Strouse, Film Inquiry

The Great Pretender has its share of dark punchlines, but its central concern is a sympathetic one: what we see in other people and how we would like to see ourselves.”
— Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club

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