Philip Roth has had his works adapted numerous times. They’re usually unsuccessful as filmmakers fail to capture the deeper meanings of his work. However, in the case of Arnaud Desplechin’s Deception the adaptation is more faithful to the text. However, the performances are so hollow and uninspired that creates a world of pain for the viewer. Deception is arguably, to date, one of the most painful execution of a Roth adaptation from book to movie.
The film focuses on Roth himself played by Denis Podalydes. He is relocating to London despite his thoughts and opinions on London itself and its inhabitants. Most of the film focuses on his love affair with a woman. We never get the privilege of knowing the name of the character that Lea Seydoux plays. While this is the bulk of the plot, they converse throughout most of the film. However, these conversations are about nothing too particular that explains what their exact relationship is.
There are some creative choices that plague the film as well. For instance, both of the characters are supposedly English in both nationality and speaking language. And yet, the film cast two French actors who speak exclusively in French for the entire film. A creative choice that goes against Roth’s original plot of his book, that plagues the audience with frustrations. As well, the performances from Podalydes and Seydoux lack any form of chemistry and conviction with each other.
Perhaps if there was more chemistry between the leads Deception would be a success. Also, if the talk of nationality which was a focal point in their conversations was in fact factual and meaningful. However changing these crucial elements while keeping them focused on the plot and lifeless performances are the ultimate downfall. This leads to the audience feeling deceived.