Molière review

:. Director: Laurent Tirard
:. Starring: Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini
:. Script: Laurent Tirard, Grégoire Vigneron
:. Running Time: 2:00
:. Year: 2007
:. Original Title: Molière
:. Country: France
:. Official Site: Molière

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Following the train wreck that was Shakespeare in Love - I know there are still people out there who think this was a great piece of "culture" because it won a little golden statue- I was pretty suspicious about Molière. With such a pompous title, the premise makes you expect a definitive biopic about the famous French playwright while the summary clearly announced this work shouldn't be taken seriously.

Watching Molière, however, proved to be a pleasant surprise as, rather than going for the formatted art of a biopic, the writers decided to create an imaginary piece turning Jean-Baptiste Poquelin's life into vaudeville, which he would later on use as a basis to craft his oeuvre. Of course, everything here has been made up, but if you are familiar enough with some of Molière's lines and plays, you should enjoy all the winks and quotes found in the film.

The plot mostly combines Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Tartuffe, approaching characters and situations with a tone of fake realism. Broke, Poquelin (Romain Duris — The Russian Dolls, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) is forced to accept a job teaching savoir-vivre to Mr. Jourdain (Fabrice Luchini of the new wave fame), a vain bourgeois who wants to seduce a beautifully spirited young woman (Ludivine Sagnier - Swimming Pool).

The trick here, which you would call post-modern, is that Molière the movie has been conceived like a Molière play. This is light and old-fashioned fun that doesn't pretend to be anything else and succeeds at this level, probably disappointing those who don't get the joke or are not familiar with the author's work - Molière works where Shakespeare in Love fails, mostly because it's an ode to the writer and embraces his style, contrary to that John Madden film which approached the life of a heavy writer with too much Hollywood blockbuster goofiness.

Another asset of the film is Fabrice Luchini's performance as a fool, mostly because it is so far from his usual serious work and quite pretentious persona. Romain Duris also plays against type and the ensemble, if certainly not a chef d'oeuvre, is pleasant enough to provide you with some breezy and quirky entertainment.

  Fred Thom

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