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The Libertine (2000)

Le libertin (original title)
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:
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Madame Therbouche
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La Baronne d'Holbach
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Le Cardinal
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La Marquise de Jerfeuil
Christian Charmetant ...
Françoise Lépine ...
Madame Diderot
François Lalande ...
Le Baron d'Holbach
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Le Marquis de Cambrol
Arnaud Lemaire ...
Le Marquis de Lutz
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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

Comedy of manners without the manners
6 March 2013 | by (Denver, Colorado and Santiago, Chile) – See all my reviews

Depending on your taste, this French movie could be considered either as a raunchy French comedy with arty pretensions or as Gallic-flavored Merchant-Ivory type fare with a refreshing lack of them. The story involves real-life 18th century French "philosoph", Denis Diderot, who is holed up with a bunch of his equally jaded family and friends on the luxurious estate of his friend Baron D'Holbach where he is working on a scandalous encyclopedia propounding his libertine philosophy. When D'Holbach's brother (Michael Serrault), a prominent cardinal, shows up unexpectedly, D'Holbach's wife (Josiane Basko) and Diderot's other various friends try to distract the clergyman from what is really going on at the estate.

This is set in the same era as "Dangerous Liasons" (and also the era of the Marquis de Sade), but for better or worse it is much less serious than the various films based on that literary work. It isn't quite the unbridled sex romp you'd expect for a French film set in this free and loose era. Most of the ribaldry involves Diderot, under the somewhat reproachful gaze of his wife, posing nude for an attractive female painter (Fanny Arnadt). There is some casual adultery mostly involving a promiscuous female party guest (Arielle Dombasle). The sexiest scenes though are undoubtedly the ones where Diderot's daughter (Vahina Giocante) and D'Holbach's daughter (a pre-"Amelie" Audrey Tatou) take a hot tub soak together, or the scene where Diderot's relatively prudish wife (Francoise Lepine) receives a "happy ending" from a studly African masseuse. But this movie is much more raunchy comedy than sex. It's kind of comedy of manners but with no manners.

Vincent Perez is quite good as Diderot, as is Josiane Balasko as the Madame D'Holbach, and Michael Serrault as the cardinal. Francoise Lepine is also pretty good, even though she largely disappeared after this movie. And Fanny Arnadt is ALWAYS worth watching. Tatou and Gicante, meanwhile, have little to do but peel off for their hot tub scene, but actually that is PLENTY. This movie is pretty lightweight, but it's also a pretty fun watch.


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