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David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
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 production hired a beautiful ancient harp from the Museo dell'Arpa Victor Salvi (Italy); the harp is dated 1760, so it is actually much later than Moliere's time. 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 more fruitful experience for those intimate with his works
Laurent Tirard's costume comedy "Molière" finds comparison with "Shakespeare in Love" rather easily, and perhaps most dauntingly, to its legendary subject's own durable narratives. But while there's not as much details missing from the 17th-century French playwright Moliere's (Romain Duris) life as there was in Shakespeare's, there's still ample room for a fanciful imagination and conjecture.
The window is small, for Tirard and co-writer Grégoire Vigneron to present the missing weeks of Molière's life after his brief imprisonment for not paying his debts, just before he embarked with his troupe on a 13-year tour of the French provinces before his triumphant return to the theatre scene in Paris. The driving point in this film, as it was in "Shakespeare in Love", is how great art tends to imitate life and how muses tend to stem from elaborate romances, which in this case is Molière's torrid affair with the wealthy Monsieur Jourdain's (Fabrice Luchini) wife Elmire (an enthralling Laura Morante).
Tirard's first salvo and indeed the one that sustains its premise throughout the end, is his understanding that a film about Molière has to be a farce, an important element that shapes his later and most important works when romance, gender politics and the moral bankruptcy of the French aristocracy become his staples. As a staunch tragedian, he gets an early education in the deviancy of the social class from the misguidedly smitten Jourdain who picks him out from his cell to help him perfect his self-written play to impress the blueblood snob, Célimene (Ludivine Sagnier). But "Molière", for all its charm and spirited performances does play rather loose in its opening hour, setting up the strands to be tangled in its second half. The modern transposition of the ringing hypocrisy of the rapacious upper class and eager capitalists ingratiating themselves into a privileged circle offers up its most scintillating prospects.
Nonetheless, flawed in his initial insistence of tragedy as the spirit of true art, it would seem that while Molière's life is a stage, he's not yet in on the act. Duris plays his character with an insinuating intelligence, cynically wearing a scowl on his face but a twinkle of hope in his eyes, all with a precise intensity that threatens to spill over. A hard sell for a light comedy bordering on fluff, but Molière plays the crucial role of the straight man in his own farce. There's no sombre reverence to Molière and his work, though the film hints at the genesis of his later plays through overtly familiar circumstances, making it a more fruitful experience for those intimate with his works.
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