Describing Molière as a French Shakespeare in Love seems lazy but it is an apt description for this fictional story about a famous literary figure that blends comedy, romance and costume drama into a nice, digestible, mildly entertaining package.
French playwright and actor Jean-Baptiste Poqulein (also known as Molière) disappeared for several weeks in 1645 and this film proposes that he was contracted by a pompous aristocrat to pose as a clergyman and live in his household. The purpose of which is so Molière could write a play that will endear the aristocrat to a young widow he has fallen for. Complications arise when Molière falls for the aristocrat’s neglected wife.
Romain Duris (The Beat My Heart Skipped, The Spanish Apartment) does a competent job as Molière but he has little to do other than look forlorn or tormented. Fans of Molière are supposedly meant to enjoy the film’s various references to his plays but it is more likely that they will be frustrated by the film’s frivolous approach. Molière is little more than light farce juxtaposed with light melodrama so enjoyable enough if you don’t have high expectations.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 302, 2008