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MOLIÈRE

Director: LAURENT TIRARD

FRANCE • 2007 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO• ANAMORPHIC • 120 MIN.


THIS LIVELY, SAUCY ROMP THROUGH THE LIFE OF THE FRENCH DRAMATIST CLEVERLY TELLS THE STORY THROUGH A FILTER OF HIS OWN DISTINCTIVE COMEDIC SENSIBILITIES. IT’S GORGEOUSLY FILMED AND ACTED, AND GREAT FUN TO WATCH.
In 1644, the theatre troupe run by Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Moliere, went bankrupt. After a stint in debtors prison, Moliere disappeared into the countryside for 13 years, honing his craft. In this imagining of that gap, Moliere (Romain Duris) is hired by the wealthy Jourdain (Fabrice Luchini), who wants to learn how to act so he can woo an eligible young mistress (Ludivine Sagnier). To hide this from his wife Elmire (Laura Morante), Jourdain disguises Moliere as a priest living in their home. But Moliere and Elmire hit it off rather well.
Framing an artist’s life through the style of his or her work is extremely risky. Fortunately, this is more Shakespeare in Love than Becoming Jane, inventively stirring in elements from Moliere’s body of work while telling a vivid story of how he found inspiration for his triumphant career. The film-makers and cast are well up to the challenge, spinning a wonderful concoction of artistic creation wrapped in a thoroughly enjoyable farce. The basic idea here, which comes straight from Moliere, is that comedy can explore humanity just as deeply as tragedy. Duris is fabulously flirtatious in the central role, bounding into each scene with a twinkle in his eye and a perfectly delivered line of racy innuendo. But he never crosses over into buffoonery. This is a wonderfully complex blend of wit and cheekiness.—Rich Cline.

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