The Seattle International Film festival has saved us from a droll and boring summer movie season. With sequels galore and some atrocious originals, it was nice to catch a screening of the closing night film at the festival last night: Molière. The film wins big, and hopefully will be nominated for best French film, director and actor (Romain Duris) when the Césars roll around next spring. Molière is France's Shakespeare and his life and plays might not be familiar to most Americans. So French director Laurent Tirard decided three years ago to make a film that would bring the work and escapades of the famed writer more accessible to audiences. Tirard co-wrote the screenplay and assembled a top notch cast including Romain Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped), Fabrice Luchini (Intimate Strangers), Laura Morante (Avenue Montaigne) Edouard Baer (The Story of My Life), and the always wonderful Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool). The story begins with Jean-Baptists Poquelin aka Molière (Duris) frantically trying to decide if he is to do a tragedy for his next play in front of the esteemed royal family despite the fact they desperately want a comedy. The film flashes back thirteen years earlier to when Poquelin has been thrown into jail because he could not pay a debt. While in jail, Monsieur Jourdain (Luchini) seeks out Molière's theatrical talents. Molière is whisked away to the Jourdain estate in disguise where he must help Jourdain win the esteem of a desired mistress (Sagnier) while keeping this all hidden from the eyes of Mme. Jourdain (Morante). In exchange for his services Molière's debt will be paid and forgiven. Bits and pieces of the rest of story seem familiar to anyone who's read Molière's plays, as this film sets the stage that these events inspire Molière to be the comedy writer that he became. The film wins on many levels. The acting talent of Duris alone merits a viewing as well as the beautiful cinematography by Gilles Henry. The images were very colorful and beautifully framed. The magnificent locations that only France has to offer were wonderfully highlighted as well as extravagant costume design, hair and make up. The score written by Frédéric Talgorn was by far one of the best parts. His ability to weave fifteenth century musical themes into a robust, fun and energetic comedy score definitely is worth a second listening at home on a nice speaker system. Oh yeah, the film is also actually funny! There are some great scenes from the plays as well as some nice jokes toward a modern audience. Molière has everything. It is a fantastically crafted and brilliant look at one of France's most famous artists. The film may run a bit long for some, but it's hardly noticeable when juxtaposed with the brilliants visuals, fantastic acting and wonderful music and sound design. The film also has heart and leaves us with a nice message to ponder when leaving the theater. When Molière releases in your area, don't miss it. The film is also appropriate for teenagers as the sexual content is rather minor. French teachers around America rejoice at a PG-13 French film they can show to their classes! Don't wait for DVD though; see this one on a big screen.
Biography / Comedy
Biography / Comedy
Imprisoned for debt, playwright Molière is rescued by an aristocrat who needs his help in order to seduce a young marquise.
September 26, 2020