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The Libertine (2000)
"Le libertin" (original title)

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The 'philosopher' (modernist intellectual of the French 18th-century Enlightenment) Denis Diderot is part of an aristocratic circle which practices the libertarian principles on the rural ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Madame Therbouche
...
La Baronne d'Holbach
Michel Serrault ...
Le Cardinal
...
La Marquise de Jerfeuil
Christian Charmetant ...
Le Marquis (Chevalier) de Jerfeuil
Françoise Lépine ...
Madame Diderot
François Lalande ...
Le Baron d'Holbach
...
Le Marquis de Cambrol
Arnaud Lemaire ...
Le Marquis de Lutz
...
Julie d'Holbach
...
Angélique Diderot
Yan Duffas ...
Abraham
Véronique Vella ...
La Cousine de Jerfeuil
...
Le Chef de la police
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Storyline

The 'philosopher' (modernist intellectual of the French 18th-century Enlightenment) Denis Diderot is part of an aristocratic circle which practices the libertarian principles on the rural castle estate of the baron of Holbach, and prints their forbidden publication, the Encyclopédie, drowning the noise of the presses in Jewish assistant Abraham's organ playing. Then arrives Madame Therbouche, a flirtatious painter, from the Prussian metropolis Berlin, and convinces Diderot to pose for her more daring then his idol fellow-philosopher Voltaire in Berlin: in the nude, leading to an animated row with his wife Antoinette, still naked except for a very unsteady sheet, all over the estate's park. Worse, the saucy scene is witnessed by a feared visitor, Holbach's brother the Cardinal, who is hunting for the illegal Encyclopaedia printers; to divert him, the baroness confesses her real and imagined sins since years and next sends in every female to do the same, later joined spontaneously by ... Written by KGF Vissers

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Comedy | History

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Release Date:

15 March 2000 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Vágy Forradalma  »

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1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

All that is missing is Sid James (oh, and laughs, structure, an involving story and any real lasting interest from me)
4 December 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In France, a group of free thinkers, led by the philosopher and writer Denis Diderot have been working to produce the first ever encyclopedia and bring enlightenment and knowledge to their fellow Frenchmen. With the authorities placing an order to stop the spread of this evil work, Diderot is forced to hide the printing presses underground at his mansion as he tries to finish his work. It is a wonder though, that he can write at all, as his freedom brings him a spread of women wanting 'liberation'. He is fine with promoting this way of thinking until his own daughter starts to explore her sexuality with feelings towards an older man. A visit by the Cardinal causes some delay but Baroness d'Holbach tries to keep him busy throughout his visit while the work continues to get the book out.

Without any knowledge of this film I sat to watch it and immediately realized that this was a typically bawdry™ French comedy that does what that description suggests by being colourful, full of raucous dialogue, sexual innuendo and nudity. Unfortunately this takes what could have been an interesting historical film with a comic tone and makes it a sort of unfunny Carry On film full of gratuitous nudity, unfunny comedy and drama/characters that totally fail to keep the audience involved in these comic japes that really lack heart. The story is so spoilt by crude excess that it is never interesting or involving and gradually turns into a very boring series of sexual japes. There is a serious side in there somewhere but it is badly treated and badly handled and it just doesn't work when placed in the middle of so much crude innuendo. If it were funny then it would be at least a bit better but it isn't funny and it doesn't have the 'Gallic sexual energy' that it clearly wants to have.

The cast all gallop around with the necessary amount of bawdry behaviour and 'huh-huh-huh' French energy but none of them can do more than just mess around in the same manner as Sid James and Barbara Windsor were doing decades ago. Perez is nice to look at but without a character he does just play the sort of lead character in Carry On movies – attempts to deal with issues around his daughter are poor since the film is more interested in getting her naked in a bath than anything else. Of course there will be those who find the sight of Audrey Tautou and Vahina Giocante naked in a bath of milk to be a pleasing one, but a bit more actual acting would have been nice too. Balasko is the worst example of Carry On hamming and her whole performance was poor. Ardant was interesting as she was more serious but her nice touches are lost in the material. Overall the whole cast is poor, although I don't blame them so much as the misjudged tone of crude humour running throughout the whole film.

Overall this is a poor film that will only appeal to those who like their French films to just be a load of sexual innuendo and cliché bawdry™ behaviour in period clothes. Historical interests and conflicts within the characters are all there but lost below a load of nudity and Carry On style japes. Sid James must be looking down from smut heaven with pleasure but for me I would have liked a bit more structure, drama or laughs (even one of the three would have done. But maybe I'm just missing the point of this film.


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