Bubbling with wit, stellar performances and lavish cinematography, Molière stars multi-Cesar®-nominated French actor Romain Duris as Molière, a down-and-out actor-cum-playwright up to his ears in debt. When the wealthy Jou... more »rdain (Cesar®-winner Fabrice Luchini) offers to cover that debt (so that Molière's theatrical talents might help Jourdain win the heart of a certain widowed marquise), hilarity ensues. Disguised as a priest, Molière becomes a guest in Jourdain's palace on the pretext of teaching Jourdain the craft of the stage, which annoys his wife, Elmire. But, soon after, the confrontation between Elmire and Molière turns seductive. Too busy to notice, Jourdain enlists the aid of a well connected and scheming acquaintance, to help him pursue the young widow. Romantic yearning, human foibles and laughs galore all characterize Molière, a delightful film that slyly captures your heart. Stills from Molière (click for larger image)« less
An absolutely exquisite film about a literary giant
Penumbra | Atlanta, GA USA | 01/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Moliére is the cinematic equivalent of a banquet of rich French delicacies. Every aspect of this film is exquisite - from the writing and directing to the sets and costumes. The cast is amazing.
This is a fanciful biography of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, a.k.a. Moliére, the 17th century French playwright. History tells us that a very young Moliére was tossed into debtor's prison when his theater troupe went bankrupt. After his release from prison Moliére disappeared for a period of time. After he reappeared he spent 13 years touring, practicing his craft and making his name throughout the provinces of France before he conquered Paris. The film deals with the period of Moliére's disappearance. It takes the stance that the people he met and the adventures he had during this time were the inspiration for some of the most famous comedic plays in Western literature. Much of the action presented in the film combines characters, situations and devices taken directly from Moliére's works, notably `Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme' and `Tartuffe.'
On the farcical side, our Moliére has been freed from debtor's prison by Monsieur Jourdain who wants Moliére to teach him to act in order that he may romantically impress a certain young widowed Marquise with a one act play he has written in her honor. Jourdain needs Moliére in his home, but he can't reveal the true reason to his wife. So Moliére is disguised as Tartuffe, a priest who will serve as tutor to the youngest Jourdain daughter. Jourdain's plans for seduction also depend on the assistance of his confidante, the impoverished nobleman, Dorante. Meanwhile, Moliére/Tartuffe is developing a romantic interest in Jourdain's wife, Elmire. A pair of young lovers, Jourdain's daughter and her music teacher further complicate the action.
The story is modern, stylish and sexy, with comic and tragic elements that will charm you and hold your interest. You don't have to be a fan of 17th century French theater to appreciate it. However, if you're familiar with the plays, this movie will have more meaning as the dialog is packed with quotes from Moliére's work.
The DVD comes with a highly informative and entertaining commentary (in English) by director, Laurent Tirard. A "Making of...." feature is included, but doesn't add much to the package.
The film was mastered in HD. It's visually perfect.
In French with English or Spanish subtitles. Highly recommended!"
Life Is a Farce
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 01/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"`Molière' is delightful. Yes, the man, the French playwright, who has given us great farcical gems, but the movie, too. Whimsical, playful, and every bit endearing, `Molière ' draws from two historically missing years in the famous man's life and does fanciful conjecture much the way 'Shakespeare in Love' did for the great Bard of Stratford.
In the "Special Features" portion, director and co-writer, Laurent Tirard, explains that they indeed fill in the blanks for his missing life by having the playwright meet the people who later will become characters in his plays.
At first we see the man starchily serious. He tries to sell tragedies to an acting troupe who more objectively know their best suit. The king offers his patronage, but is as wise as his actors for insisting he stick to farces. On tour, people throw food at the writer, who is acting in one of his own plays, trying to play it straight. It is only when a performance is interrupted by the police that Moliere comes to his senses. Confronted about his debt, he makes sport of the police, earning his first laughs and cheers of the evening.
In a way he garners his "out of jail free" card. For a wealthy patron, Mssr. Jourdain (Fabrice Lucini) has seen his performance and sees his potential. He gives Moliere an offer he can't refuse: He'll support him and get him out of prison, but Moliere must perform a play he has written for his beloved wife. He's loathe to the idea until Jourdain threatens to put him back in debtors' prison. Yet, his biggest challenge is trying to stay hidden from his wife, so she will be surprised.
It doesn't take long for Moliere to be discovered by Caroline Jourdain, but he rises to the occasion by hiding under an assumed name, "Tartuffe," and sports false pretenses as a religious zealot, sought for the family's spiritual guidance. (`Tartuffe' is the only Moliere play I've seen although I've read another.)
From here it seems ever more like Shakespeare's own `The Comedy of Errors (Signet Classics)' as romantic entanglements ensue and ripen, and people's motives for love and money are eventually sorted out. Maybe not of the same caliber, but much ado about something along those plot lines.
Not since the spirited 'Casanova' has a film been so fun and handsomely decorated. 'Moliere' is a beautiful French film that is substantive enough to relish for its laughs as well as for its inspiring connections to Moliere's plays. If you remotely enjoyed `Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,' you will thoroughly enjoy `Molière'."
Robin Friedman | Washington, D.C. United States | 08/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This summer of movies has featured two historical romances in which two famous writers become who they are. The first movie, "Becoming Jane" is based upon the life of Jane Austen and shows her discovering her themes as a novelist as a result of a failed romance. The other movie, "Moliere" was released 2006 in France but was only recently released with English subtitles in the United States. I found it much more inspiring and entertaining than its counterpart.
The story takes place at two times in Moliere's life: when he is on the verge of his artistic sucess upon being called to the court and thirteen years earlier when, as the leader of a wandering group of comedians, he is thrown into a debtor's prision. The plot becomes elegantly tangled. Moliere is rescued from prison by a nameless French nobleman who wants his assistance in producing a play to seduce a beautiful, fickle young coquette. He is brought into the house in the guise of a priest named "Tartuffe" and immediately arouses the suspicion of the nobleman's wife. The wife becomes attracted to the much younger Moliere when she chances upon some writing he has done for her husband, and, yes, the two begin an affair. Meanwhile Moliere rescuses his rescuer from a conniving neighbor who takes his money, has designs upon his son as a wife for his daughter, and tries to foist his own attentions on the lovely coquette. Moliere's cleverness thwarts these attempts, while Moliere also seeks forgiveness for cuckolding his benefactor. The benefactor shows a great deal of character development from an fop and a seducer to one who realizes the error of his ways.
But the highlight of the plot is they way the experience, and his relationship with the Countess, influences Moliere. Throughout the movie, Moliere is portrayed as a frustrated tragedian who longs to do great things but fears they cannot be accomplished through comedy. The Countess twice forcefully tells him to persevere through all vicissitudes in his calling as a playright -- and to stick with his genius for comedy. When Moliere says that comedy cannot be meaningful, she tells him to invent comedy that can. The point is brought home convincingly.
The manners, set, and acting in this film are beautiful and the subtitles are easy to read. I thought this movie an excellent period piece about the great French writer of comic drama with an inspiring moral for the viewer.
120 minutes in French with subtitles
3 1/2 Stars: Leather and Lace
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 02/17/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Director/Writer Laurent Tirard and co-writer Grégoire Vigneron have wisely decided to make this film about a short period of Moliere's (a can this actor do no wrong, Romain Duris?) life rather than attempt to make a survey film about Moliere's entire life. As such this "Moliere" sketches in the mysterious lost years of Jean Baptiste Poquelin's life and mostly to good advantage. Physically "Moliere" is an absolutely sumptuous affair: all plush velvet and silks, shot in remarkably gorgeous saturated color. Also on the plus side is the performance of Romain Duris ("The Beat that My Heart Skipped") as Moliere as well as the Elmire Jourdain (wife of M. Jourdain who has hired Moliere to teach him the fine points of acting and seduction so that he can seduce another woman) of the perpetually sexy and sultry Laura Morente whose revealing bodice causes her husband untold consternation. Duris plays Moliere in the grand style: artificial, over-the-top as if he were in a Moliere farce. In most movies this would be completely out of place but here it works as the writers have incorporated pieces of several Moliere plays herein and Duris merely goes with the proverbial flow. His Moliere is at turns confident, sure of himself and at others completely at odds with the world and flummoxed by pretty much everything. Duris's Moliere is a fine tuned performance: a completely controlled one full of absurdity and irony yet always human and thoughtful. "Moliere" goes on a bit too long and Tirard's attempt to make this a Moliere farce at times falls flat but nonetheless this is a good film with better performances and without a doubt a feast for the eyes if not always for the ears. "
The Film of The Year?
Dancing Ganesha | Bangalore, India | 02/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the better films I've viewed as of late, with an engaging and likeable main actor (hard to come by these days, let me tell you that!) Speaking of which, who is this mysterious Romaine Duris? He's certainly the Dark Horse of cinema if ever there was, not that I'm complaining.
I found this film to be not only entertaining, but it had a good lesson behind all the fun and cuteness. I'm also glad that a film was made to showcase Moliere, who is relatively unknown here in the States.
I would highly recommend this film. It is superb, and much better than many of the historical dramas as of late, for instance "Marie Antoinette" and "The Libertine," while engaging in their own ways, are still less palpable and interesting than "Moliere." If I could, I'd vote this one film of the year.