Witty script, humor, and flattery are what characterize this romantic drama about a short period in the life of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also known as Molière. Characters and quotes are taken from Molière’s real plays but without the satirical depth of the artist’s stage work.
Visually beautiful, Gilles Henry’s cinematography captures the scenery with sumptuous mansions and the perfectly manicured gardens through long shot camera work. In addition, Pierre-Jean Larroque’s lavish period costumes add sophistication to the characters. The original score by Frédéric Talgorn well complements the film.
In 1644, Molière, age 22, was a failed actor, and his founded Illustrious Theatre Troupe was bankrupt. Pursued by creditors Molière was jailed, released, and disappeared mysteriously for a few months without a trace. When he reemerged, Molière joined his troupe and toured the provinces for 13 years before his return to Paris in 1658.
In this fictional feature, director and writer Laurent Tirard, along with screenwriter Grégoire Vigneron, follow the premise that Molière’s life experiences during this gap of time constituted the basis and inspiration of his theatrical satire, such as Tartuffe, the Bourgeois Gentleman, and The Misanthrope, for which he is known today.
As in the fashion of John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love, the story unfolds with several plots and subplots.
The married bourgeois Monsieur Jourdain (Fabrice Luchini), bails Molière out of jail. While busy finding discreet ways to capture the heart of the beautiful widow Célimene (Ludivine Sagnier), Monsieur Jourdain, enlists Molière to write for him.
While in Jourdain’s home, disguised as an instructor-priest for Jourdain’s daughter Henriette (Fanny Valette), Molière falls passionately in love with Jourdain’s neglected wife, the beautiful Elmire (Laura Morante). Furthermore, Jourdain’s best friend, the manipulator Dorante (Edouard Baer) attempts to seize the financial gain opportunity by plotting for an arranged marriage between his son and Jourdain’s daughter.
The well casted actors deliver sharp performances.
Though better known for dramatic roles than for comedies, Romain Duris gives it his all, displaying versatility in this multi faceted character.
Laura Morante, adds spice to Elmire while Fabrice Luchini brings out the slapstick humor in Monsieur Jourdain.
It is beautiful to watch, enjoyable, and simply put, c’est magnifique!
Rating: PG 13