Who was Moliere? He is known everywhere as one of the world's greatest playwrights. But who was he? Born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in 1622, the son of a prosperous tapestry maker. His mother ... See full summary »
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Philippe de Broca
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In 1657, playwright/actor Molière, having been given a theater in the capital by the King, is back in Paris after touring the kingdom of France with his company of players. One day, a young lady asks him to follow her to the deathbed of her mother... Thirteen years earlier, Molière already runs a troupe but goes broke and is thrown to prison. Fortunately (?) his debt is covered by Monsieur Jourdain, a rich man who wants him to help him rehearse a one-act play he has written with a view to seducing a beautiful bright young widow, Célimène. As Jourdain is married to Elmire, and is the "respectable" father of two daughters his design must remain secret so Molière is introduced into the house as Tartuffe, an austere priest...Written by
The plot of "Moliere" was actually loosely based on two of his plays, 'Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme' and 'Tartuffe'. See more »
What angel sent you to make us laugh like this? We're so dreadfully starved for entertainment.
What, madame? I thought the greatest minds jostled their way in here.
If you knew what we endured. It's often a draw between boredom and the grotesque. People jostle, yes, only to declare their unwanted passion. Like that poor Mr. Jourdain.
Mr. Jourdain, you say?
Imagine a farmyard rooster, disguised as a pheasant, sputtering rhymes in my face a child of eight would no longer dare read. You see my ...
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A farce that never quite clicks--or finds a style.
There's a period of a few months in 1644 when the French playwright Molière, then only 22, fell through the cracks of history, and Laurant Tirard's film 'Moliere' (co-written with Grégoire Vigneron) makes up a story to fill the gap. Young Moliere's little company is crippled by debts and he is trying insistently to put on tragedies with no success. One day when he's in debtor's prison, he disappears. According to the film, he has an adventure that leads him wisely to reorient his work in the direction of comedy after being urged to do so by a lovely woman with whom he has a brief affair after being hired as a sort of ghost writer for her husband. This patron has paid off Moliere's debts and brings him to his estate disguised as a tutor for a daughter. He is a pretentious and very wealthy businessman who wants the young writer to pen clever material for him to pass off as his own and thereby impress a witty young woman who's the star of a salon.
The wealthy businessman is the supple Fabrice Lucchini , his lovely wife is the beautiful Laura Morante, Moliere is a be-wigged Romain Duris, and the witty salon chick is Ludivine Sagnier. The patron's name is none other than Monsieur Jourdan--the same as Moliere's most famous creation, "The Bourgeois Gentleman." Jourdan also contains elements of Orgon and Arnolphe, two of Moliere's other memorable creations. Lucchini is at the center of the film and his character is more complex than Duris' playwright, who's more buffoonish most of the time than the bourgeois fool. Anyway, though there are suitors for Jourdan's daughter and Moliere is having an affair with Mme Jourdain, as an illustration of the author's famous characters and themes this is superficial--at best, "Moliere for Dummies" (a phrase used in one of the French reviews). The underlying assumption--though I'm not sure how seriously one should take it--is that Moliere based his characters on actual people, and had to be told by a lover what genre to work in--comedy. At the end we see Moliere and his company, thirteen years later, performing a bit of 'Tartuffe,' and the lines are directly copied from the playwright's earlier adventure chez Jourdan. If this is meant to be moving, it only seems literal and obvious.
Duris' character is occasionally witty, but too much of the movie is physical slapstick that, however well executed--Duris is adept and game--thinks it's funnier than it is. An extended scene where Moliere and M. Jourdan set to imitating horses is arresting, but more peculiar than droll. Edouard Baer, as an impoverished nobleman who exploits Jourdan, seems a bit wasted here considering that he was so amusing along with the brilliant Clovis Cornillac (and others) in Tirard's funny if ridiculous 2004 comedy ''Mensonges et trahisons. . . This is farce that stumbles too often. It knocks the dust off some pages of (nonexistent) history, but somehow it never quite clicks--or finds a style. Tirard penned the conventional sitcom-ish comedy last year with Charlotte Gainsbourg, 'Prete-moi ta main' ('How to Get Married and Stay Single''). It's been a long time since Moliere. Romain Duris continues to show versatility, but this performance steals none of the luster of his much more memorable one in Audiard's 2005 'The Beat My Heart Skipped.'
Julian Jarrold's 'Becoming Jane,' playing simultaneously in this country, treats Jane Austen with the same fundamentally naïve assumption that authors invent nothing and simply copy out people they've encountered in life. But 'Jane' differs significantly. Though Miss Austen may never have gotten into the sort of amorous mess that's central to the film, such things did happen very definitely to some of her characters, and there are some genuine emotions in 'Jane.' 'Moliere' is being overrated in this country, while 'Becoming Jane,' which has been generally dismissed, is not getting a fair shake.
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