Truth can't be avoided: it's a French Shakespeare in Love

PUBLISHED: 11:36 20 July 2007 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 September 2010

MOLIERE (12A) Director Laurent Tirard Starring Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini, Laura Morante, Edouard Baer, Ludivine Sagnier. French with subtitles 120 mins Three star rating I have spent an hour trying to steer a path around the line It s a French Shake

MOLIERE (12A)

Director Laurent Tirard Starring Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini, Laura Morante, Edouard Baer, Ludivine Sagnier. French with subtitles 120 mins

Three star rating

I have spent an hour trying to steer a path around the line "It's a French Shakespeare in Love" but there's no avoiding it. The film traces an unaccounted period in Moliere's biography, when at the age of 22 he seemed to disappear for three months.

According to this film,

he went away and became involved in a country house romp where he got all his best ideas and learned that comedy is an art form quite the equal of tragedy. (If only something like this had happened to Woody Allen.)

This is French farce and probably very good if you like that sort of thing. For me it was like having teeth pulled for two hours, but having teeth pulled in a sumptuous and elegant way. The period trappings are lavishly done and the playing is first rate.

Romain Duris (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) is a dashing Moliere, resembling Jamie Theakston dressed up as Jack Sparrow from Pirates Of The Caribbean, and he receives tremendous support from a first-rate cast. They were never going to win me round but they made the strongest case possible.

Truffaut once remarked that there was "a certain incompatibility between the terms Britain and cinema." In the distant past as I'm writing this I've just completed a blitz of French cinema - three films on consecutive days. The first was Julie Delpy's directorial debut, an attempt to make her own Woody Allen film.

The second was Paris Je T'aime which is buoyed up by non-French talent. And finally there was the gratifying spectacle of fresh French film talent churning out a period costume piece inspired by the work of the nation's leading dramatist - just about as British a conception of film-making as it's possible to imagine. Ou est yer French cinema maintenant?

Michael Joyce


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