Club Tropicana

Moliere

7 June 11 words: Samuel Horton
The film stands as a fine testament to Poquelin’s life and work since it, in itself, is something of a farce
 
 Duris as Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in Moliere
1658. Paris. Famed writer/actor Jean-Baptiste Poquelin returns to Paris after touring France with his comedic troupe, gaining renown within the hearts and minds of citizens far and wide. All is not well in the young writer’s mind, however; events from his youth still eat away at his thoughts, and the desire to move away from his comical exploits into more ‘serious’ theatrical genres ceaselessly bothers him.

Moliere is set in an enigmatic time in Poquelin’s life, during which the man seemingly disappeared from France altogether; his family, colleagues and friends had no clue where he had gone – he was, for want of a better term, missing-in-action. This film attempts to piece together the events over the course of this time, providing an almost semi-biographical account of his exploits during his disappearance, and does so perfectly.

Categorising this film as a mere romantic comedy would be unfair, as it is so much more; drama, unrelenting wit and romance all roll into one to create a piece which feels understandably daft, yet with characters lovable enough, a setting beautiful enough, and a story so exquisitely crafted as to draw us into its own eccentric little world. A place which, by the time the reel stops playing and the lights brighten, we almost might never want to leave.

 
In terms of its music, Frederic Talgorn’s score serves as a fitting backdrop to Moliere’s intricately crafted universe. Stringed flourishes reflect nuances in the subtlest facial expressions, and our attention is drawn away from the narrative to momentarily consider the points-of-view of individual characters, putting emphasis upon slight details that we might otherwise have missed.

Shot in a quintessentially French cinematographic style, with emphasis upon emotion, facial expression, language and vivid, vibrant colour, Moliere truly is a feast for the senses. Duris’ portrayal of Moliere himself is utterly flawless, proving himself once again as a versatile, adaptable character actor. All performances, for that matter, are perfect; Luchini’s well-meaning Jourdain, Morante’s sultry, grounded Elmire or Edouard Baer’s hilariously inept Dorante, it is as if all in this film were born for their respective roles.

The film, as well as its content, stands as a fine testament to Poquelin’s life and work since it, in itself, is something of a farce. Full to bursting with slapstick, wordplay, irony and black comedy, one could be forgiven for thinking it was written and directed by the man himself.

Moliere screened at Broadway on Sunday 5 June as part of NEAT 11 Festival.