2007 - France - 120 minutes
Director - Laurent Tirard
Writers - Laurent Tirard and Grégoire Vigneron
My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1622-1673) - better known today by his stage name, Molière - was an actor but is remembered as one of the premier writers of comedy in Western literature. This film is a fictionalized account of the events that inspired him to expand his writing of low-brow humor to the level of intricately designed farce.
The film, Molière is a beautifully conceived dramatic, romantic farce. It is a sumptuous treat for the eye, the heart, and the funny bone. It begins as Molière's troupe, having become well-known for their performances in the countryside, are invited to perform in the city. Molière is in crisis for he wishes to perform drama rather than comedy. His vain attempts to compose a drama exhaust him but cause him to remember events much earlier in his life.
The scene shifts to thirteen years earlier where the viewer experiences a dramatic performance by Molière. He is bad - really bad. Just as he is about to be driven from the stage by an angry and disappointed audience, he is arrested for bad debts. He is taken from the jail by the representative of M. Jourdain who is a wealthy merchant. Jourdain is the fool of the piece. He has a beautiful, intelligent wife but has desires upon an attractive and witty courtesan with whom he is enthralled.
Molière is hired to coach Jourdain in presenting in a play he has composed in order to entice the courtesan. The play is horrible and Jourdain's acting is even worse, but Molière needs the money.
In order to hide his motives from his wife, Jourdain presents Molière as a visiting priest. At first Jourdain's wife hates this visiting priest, but she is no fool. She soon realizes that Molière is only playing the part of a priest and enters into an affair with Molière who is quite the randy fellow.
Jourdain's daughter is in love with a local teacher but he has promised her to the son of a neighboring nobleman in order to bring distinction to his family. The nobleman's only advantage is his title as he is without funds. He schemes to join his son and Jourdain's daughter to bring much needed funds to his estate.
Jourdain has also trusted his noble neighbor to be the go-between to his most desired courtesan. Needless-to-say the nobleman presents all of Jourdain's gifts to the courtesan as his own in order to curry her favor and seduce her.
All this farce is played out with excellent acting, superior sets and costumes, and expert directing. This film is a wonderful lark but also tears at your heartstrings and brings a bit of mist to your eye. It is great entertainment.
February 4, 2008