Masquerade (2010) – By Matt Barry

Two lonely characters – Andrea (Jennifer Prettyman) and Adam (Landyn Banx) – meet one night in a bar and share their stories. Andrea shares her story of being seduced by a female bartender one night after getting too drunk to drive herself home, and the physical violence she witnesses the following morning when the bartender’s boyfriend returns home early to find the both of them in bed. Andrea then reveals to Adam that she has been married for ten years with a daughter.

When Adam describes her life as sounding perfect, Andrea describes herself as lost, searching for meaning, describing her life as “just a façade”. Feeling distant from her husband, Andrea seeks to escape, which leads her to self-destructive actions.

Adam tells of his own relationship issues, reluctant to tell his wife of his affair with another man, coming from a bigoted family who would certainly disapprove of him. Like Andrea, he sees his entire life as “just a lie”.

Masquerade deals with two people searching for their sense of identity and independence in the face of others who do not understand or accept them. Told with engaging performances, the story reveals a depth to the characters as the viewer learns more about both of their backgrounds. The discussion between the two strangers leads to a lot of soul-searching that helps put their situations in perspective, leading both to confront their personal issues on their own but meeting with ultimately tragic consequences.

In addition to writing, producing and directing the film, Jennifer Prettyman also plays the lead role. She delivers a subtle, understated performance that manages to reveal much about the confusion, vulnerability and self-destructive aspects of her character. Landyn Banx manages to be both touching and tragic in his performance of the young man torn between his own identity, and what his wife and family want him to be.

The film’s climactic moment is a powerful one, with a combination of haunting lighting and sound effects contributing to the tragedy of the situation. The editing is very effective throughout, keeping the pace moving well between the scenes in the bar, and the rest of the story as told in flashback. The flashback narrative device works well here, especially since it tells not one but two characters’ stories. The final twist (which I won’t reveal here) is both tragic and ironic, fueled by a misunderstanding that impacts both characters.

Masquerade is written, produced and directed by Jennifer Prettyman, and presented by Timshel Films in association with JMP Productions.