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Sunday, 10 January 2010

Moliere (2007)

You may or may not be wondering what has become of Pretty Pink Patty the Big Beautiful Blogger. When I started my film journal, I tried to write every day, but that slipped to once every two or three days -- and now humungous gaps. While my arm is now on the mend, my accident has triggered problems with my vision -- namely something that looks like big black wasps floating around in front of me (apparently known as 'floaters') accompanied by flashing lights in semi-darkness. Some fun -- NOT. I'm told these will disappear in due course or I will learn to live with them (not a great scenario), but they are proving a distraction to someone whose main diversion is watching films and/or reading and writing about them. So I shall do the best I can in the coming days, within my limitations...

The above French film celebrating the country's best-loved dramatist was something of a romp. It opens in 1658 when Moliere's acting troupe is preparing to play for the king, but then moves back thirteen years when the impoverished playwright is thrown into gaol for debts. His rescuer is a nerdy, married businessman, brought cringingly to life by Fabrice Luchini, who wants the author to polish a poor dramatic piece with which he hopes to woo and win a clever young widow, played by Ludivine Sagnier (a young actress whose sexual appeal continues to baffle me). He is introduced into Luchini's household disguised as a pious priest, using the name Tartuffe (another among many literary in-jokes in the movie), where he soon begins a relationship with the neglected wife (Laura Morante). Before he is through and his debts cleared, he has restored husbandly affections in the heart of the rejected and humiliated Luchini and saved his daughter from a disastrous and love-free marriage.

The role of Moliere is taken by up-and-coming star Romain Duris who does wonders with the character across the 13-year age gap and who charms throughout. I had doubts that he could achieve such a masterly turn after seeing him a few days ago in "Dans Paris" (2006) where he played the depressed and suicidal older brother of Louis Garrel, an actor I have actively disliked since seeing him in "The Dreamers" (2003), but he was absolutely delightful in this well-mounted 'heritage' drama. It may have been Moliere's ambition to be better-known as a writer of tragedies, but it is his comedies that are his legacy. They are what the king and his court craved even then, and goodness knows, we can all do with a good laugh!
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