John Malkovich Paradox, The (2014): Feature Debut of Pierre-Francois Limbosch

Production designer and art director Pierre-Francois Limbosch makes his feature debut with the documentary The John Malkovich Paradox,  a rumination about the creative genius of the eccentric American thespian, who lives in Paris.

Observing rehearsals for a French-language staging of “Dangerous Liaisons” played by neophytes, Limbosch offers an earnest, quite an admiring tribute. As director, Limbosch knows the actor: He had served as production designer on Malkovich’s single screen directorial effort, “The Dancer Upstairs” (2002).

Stephen Frears’ 1988 Dangerous Liaisons, based on the Oscar-winning script by Christopher Hampton, provided Malkovich with a career breakthrough and a signature role, the Machiavellian seducer the Vicomte de Valmont.

Two decades later, Malkovich collaborated with Fanette Barraya to translate Hampton’s screenplay into a theater version in de Laclos’ own tongue and selected actors fresh from drama school for a production at Paris’ Theatre de L’Atelier.

Limbosch provides glimpses of the two-month rehearsal period, during which they are encouraged by Malkovich to “follow your instincts,” even if this process results in different line readings from show to show.

The “paradox” referred to in the film’s eye-catching title is that Malkovich is “very demanding, but he gives us freedom.”

Running time: 73 minutes.