Thursday, April 19, 2007


Drama, comedy

Jean-Baptiste Pouquelin (1622-73) was a French dramatist, theatre manager and actor. He is considered as one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature (despite his own preference for tragedy) and perhaps the best known playwright in French history.

His comedies have been performed from his day to ours not only in France, but also around the world. The company he toured with was known as the King's Troupe (for the Sun King, Louis XIV), and later became the most prestigious theatre company in all of France, the Comédie Française. More than likely he used a stage name to spare his father the shame of having an actor in the family.

Romain Duris: Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (better known by his stage name Molière)
Fabrice Lucini: Monsieur Jourdain, a wealthy "bourgeois"
Laura Morant: his wife Elmire
Edouard Baer: Dorante, long time friend of M. Jourdain
Ludivine Sagnier: Célimène, a beautiful, bright, young widow

The film begins with a play being staged before a boisterous audience and your first thought might be “Oh my heavens, what have I got myself into?” But stick around because it soon moves on from the theatre setting and the real movie begins.

Although it is not promoted as an autobiography, the combined efforts of historians have unearthed no trace of Molière between the time of the Theatre Troupe bankruptcy and his reappearance later when he formed a new group and began touring the provinces. So perhaps the movie recounts what really happened in the intervening months?

In any event, it is so refreshing to see a movie that relies on intellectual humour rather than the “in your face” variety that is so prevalent. This is a lavish production with the costumes and acting of the highest order amid sumptuous settings. Although it is two hours long, very little could be edited out and the time passes quickly.

One more thing that sets this film apart: the audience started applauding when the end credits began to roll. That in itself is quite an endorsement.

for General Audiences

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