Imprisoned for debt, playwright Molière is rescued by an aristocrat who needs his help in order to seduce a young marquise.

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3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Henriette Jourdain
Gonzague Montuel ...
Gilian Petrovski ...
Thomas
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Luc Tremblais ...
Nicolas Vaude ...
Monsieur
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Isabelle Caubère ...

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Storyline

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 Guy Bellinger

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Genres:

Comedy | History

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

31 January 2007 (France)  »

Also Known As:

As Aventuras de Molière  »

Box Office

Budget:

€16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£76,061 (UK) (13 July 2007)

Gross:

$634,277 (USA) (22 November 2007)
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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Elmire Jourdain: Unhappiness has comic aspects one should never underestimate
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin: How could I joke about that which makes me weep? This type of comedy does not exist.
Elmire Jourdain: Well, then... invent it.
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Connections

References Molière (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Ah, Madame, Je vous aime!
Lyrics by Christian Daumas, music based on a 17th Century tune
Performed by Henriette Jourdain (Fanny Valette) and Valère (Gonzague Montuel)
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User Reviews

 
Romantic and richly entertaining
2 September 2007 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

While New York Times film critic A.O. Scott may rail at the "fundamentally bogus and anti-literary idea that the great writers of the past wrote what they knew", there is still a pervasive longing out there to discover the connection between an author's life and his work. The audacious premise that great art reflects an author's life experience is promoted in films such as John Madden's Shakespeare in Love and now in Moliére, Laurent Tirard's speculative costume drama of the great French playwright. While the suggestion that the mystery of genius lies in a secret love affair borders on the banal, these films attempt to give us a sense of who these great artists were as people and what may have been at least one source of their inspiration.

Like Shakespeare in Love, Moliére uses guesswork, imagination, and creativity to fill in the blanks when the facts are not readily available. What we do know about the life of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin known to the world as Moliére is scanty. In 1644 he was a 22-year old actor who spent some time in debtor's prison after his touring company went bankrupt. After that the young actor and aspiring playwright disappeared for several months before he surfaced in the provinces. It was there that he toured with his Illustre Theatre for 13 years before arriving in Paris convinced that tragedy was the only true theater.

Of course, what is not known is what inspired him to take a comic turn, but Tirard allows us to imagine characters and situations that might have led to such great works as "Tartuffe" and "Le Bourgeois Gentlhomme" and 28 other plays which roast the upper classes as affected hypocrites and worse. Soulfully and convincingly performed by Romain Duris, who has been known for dramatic roles such as the pianist in The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Moliére is rescued from prison by a bumbling aristocrat named Monsieur Jourdain (Fabrice Luchini). Jourdain has written a one-act play that he wants to perform at the salon of the haughty widow, marquise Celimene (Ludivine Sagnier) with whom he is smitten.

Paying Moliére's debts, he hires him to teach him the skills of an actor while tricking his graceful wife Elmire (Laura Morante) into believing that he is a priest named Mr. Tartuffe who has come only to counsel his daughter in matters of religion. This ruse runs into problems when Tartuffe/Moliére's falls in love with Madame Jourdain; however their relationship becomes a transforming experience for the actor/playwright when she suggests that he concentrate on writing a different kind of comedy, one that probes the emotions of a drama.

Complications are plentiful as the story moves from comedy to farce, to tragedy and back again with the assistance of a scheming count named Dorante (Edouard Baer) whose goal is to marry his son Thomas (Gillian Petrovsky) to Jourdain's daughter Henriette (Fanny Valette) regardless of the fact that Henriette is in love with her music teacher Valere (Gonzague Requillart). Moliére may not fully capture the true essence of the French author but the fact that it does suggest a writer of depth, wit, and inspiration may entice the viewer to seek out the source material first hand. Granted that the film is speculation, not biography, but it is art and the payoff is a romantic and richly entertaining tribute to one of the greatest playwrights in history.


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