Presented at Focus on French Cinema in 2008
22-year-old Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also known as Molière, is not yet the writer that history recognizes as the father & true master of comic satire, author of “the Misanthrope and Tartuffe, and a dramatist to rank alongside Shakespeare & Sophocles. Far from it. He is in fact, a failed actor.
His Illustrious Theatre Troupe, founded the previous year, is bankrupt. Hounded by creditors, Molière is thrown into jail, released, then swiftly imprisoned again. When the jailors finally let him go, he disappears. The combined efforts of historians have unearthed no trace of him before his reappearance, several months later, when his troupe begins touring the provinces – a tour that will last for thirteen years, and culminate in Molière’s triumphant return to Paris in 1658. But what happened to Molière during these mysterious lost months?
Molière, we discover, has been released from prison by a wealthy bourgeois, Monsieur Jourdain, who settled the young actor’s debts on the understanding that he will teach him the craft of the stage. Hungry for recognition, Jourdain is infatuated with the lovely but poisonous Célimene, whose salon gathers together suitors & great wits.
But the affair must remain secret, kept at all costs from Jourdain’s wife, Elmire, a wonderful woman with whom Molière himself will fall headlong in love. Unfortunately for him, Jourdain has presented Molière as Monsieur Tartuffe, an austere private tutor, to justify his presence. Elmire has nothing but the harshest words for this holier-than-thou figure who has invaded her home. Trapped in this untenable situation, Molière will experience all manner of events that will open his eyes and his mind, both to life itself and to his work as an artist. It is from the heart of this tale, and from his passion for Elmire, that Molière the great dramatist is born.
Boasting an extraordinary cast (Romain Duris The Beat My Heart Skipped; Ludivine Sagnier Swimming Pool, 8 Women; Laura Morante The Son’s Room; Edouard Baer L’Appartement) sumptuous production values and a witty and sophisticated script in the tradition of Shakespeare In Love, director Laurent Tirard’s romantic period drama reveals the tantalizing mystery behind the birth of France’s greatest dramatist.