Moliere (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/07/2007

Four out of Five stars

Running time: 120 mins

Enjoyable, frequently amusing and surprisingly romantic French romp with a witty script, superb performances and a subtle message about the value of comedy.

What's it all about?
Set in 1644, the film presents an imaginary version of what might have happened to French dramatist Moliere during a 13 year period of his life that is unaccounted for. After being chucked into debtors' prison for the bankruptcy of his theatre troupe, Moliere (Romain Duris) is freed by wealthy nobleman Jourdain (Fabrice Luchini) on the condition that he teaches him to act, so that he can woo an influential young mistress (Ludivine Sagnier).

Moliere has no choice but to accept Jourdain's proposal and he duly moves into the deluded nobleman's house, disguised as a priest. However, there are two problems. First, it transpires that the buffoonish Jourdain is an atrocious actor and secondly, Moliere finds himself falling for Jourdain's wife, Elmire (Laura Morante).

The Good
Rising star Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) is superb as Moliere and has a sparky chemistry with Morante that works beautifully. There's also strong comic support from Luchini (who gets most of the laughs) and Ludivine Sagnier makes the most of her few scenes as the spoiled, stuck-up Celimene.

The script is suitably farcical and there are several good gags, especially when Molière is running rings around Jourdain or flirting with Elmire. That said, there's a definite sense that several other good jokes are lost in translation.

The Great
Moliere's closest equivalent is probably Shakespeare In Love, in that both films combine romance and comedy whilst presenting a fictional source of inspiration for a real-life artist. The film also subtly conveys the lesson that Moliere himself learned from his unexplained disappearance – that comedy has as much value as tragedy when it comes to exploring the human condition.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is an enjoyable, well made comedy with a terrific performance by Duris. Ooh and, indeed, la la. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Moliere (12)
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Content updated: 22/10/2017 03:35

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