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A sophisticated, witty biopic of the great satirist.

Set in 1644, the film presents an imaginary version of what might have happened to French dramatist Molière during several months of his life that are unaccounted for. After being chucked into debtors’ prison for the bankruptcy of his theatre troupe, Molière (Romain Duris) is allegedly freed by wealthy nobleman Jourdain (Fabrice Luchini) on the condition that he teaches him to act, so that he can woo an influential young mistress (Ludivine Sagnier). Molière has no choice but to accept Jourdain’s proposal and he duly moves into the deluded nobleman’s house, disguised as a priest. However, there are two problems. First, it transpires that the buffoonish Jourdain is an atrocious actor and secondly, Molière finds himself falling for Jourdain’s wife, Elmire (Laura Morante). Rising star Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) is superb as Molière and has a sparky chemistry with Morante that works beautifully. There’s also strong comic support from Luchini (who gets most of the laughs), and Ludivine Sagnier makes the most of her few scenes as the spoiled, stuck-up Célimène. Molière’s closest equivalent is probably Shakespeare In Love, in that both films combine romance and comedy whilst presenting a fictional source of inspiration for a real-life artist. The film also subtly conveys the lesson that Molière himself learned from his unexplained disappearance – that comedy has as much value as tragedy when it comes to exploring the human condition. In short, this is an enjoyable, frequently amusing and surprisingly romantic French romp, with a witty script and superb performances. Ooh and, indeed, là là. Recommended. - Matthew Turner, Time Out London

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Directed by: 
Laurent Tirard
Running Time: 
French with English subtitles.
Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini, Ludivine Sagnier, Laura Morante
Screenplay by: 
Laurent Tirard & Grégoire Vigneron

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