Saturday, July 24, 2010


Laurent Tirard, 2007, France (8.5*)
This is not the story of the French playright Molière, but rather a fiction to explain his possible disappearance for two years just after being released from debtor's prison. The story surmises that Molière, played by Romain Duris, had his debt paid by a wealthy merchant, Monsieur Jordain (Fabrice Luchini), in exchange for the playright becoming his private acting tutor in order that he may woo a young widow and courtesan, Célimène (played by vivacious Ludivine Sagnier), by performing a one-act play of his own.

As Jourdain is married, with a marriable daughter he's trying to find a title for, Molière's true identity must be kept a secret, so he is brought to Jourdain's estate as an austere young priest named Tartuffe. He is immediately attracted to Jourdain's neglected wife Elmire, wonderfully played with passion by the beautiful Italian actress Laura Morante.

The entire story is told as a flashback by Molière upon his arrival in Paris some 13 years later, after touring the provinces performing comedies, finally being given a playhouse in the city by the king himself. It's mostly a comedy, yet is also a touching romance with the perfect look of a period costume drama, this one taking place in the mid 1600's. The French aristocracy is shown to be largely materialistic idlers, con artists who'd rather marry or borrow money rather than do anything productive; this is pre-revolution of course, and even though it's been done before, this is one of the better productions and stories in this genre.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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