MOVIE FEATURE by Harriet Robbins

Sony Classics is releasing the French film MOLIERE, a fascinating depiction of the mysterious disappearance of Moliere after his release from debtor's prison in Paris (1644).

Romain Duris brilliantly portrays Moliere. The ensemble cast, directed by Laurent Tirard, includes such actors as Fabrice Luchini, Laura Morante, Edward Baer, Ludivine Sagnier and Fanny Valente. The story insightfully investigates the dynamics that enabled Moliere to become one of France's greatest dramatists, "the father of French farce" whose satirical plays are still studied and performed today.

The film pays homage to Moliere himself. We observe him being rescued from prison by a wealthy bourgeois, Monsieur Jourdain, who has become infatuated with a member of the court, the notorious Celimene. Her salon has become the haven for the rapier wits of the period.

Jourdain (Luchini) is an inept student who wishes to learn the tricks of the stage in order to impress Celimene (Signier). This must be done discreetly, lest his wife (Morante) learn of his true motives. He introduces Moliere, posing as a stern tutor, into the household. The situation appeals to Moliere, who falls in love with Elmire and pursues her with gusto. In doing so, French farce is born.

For all lovers of stage and screen this is a comedy not to be missed. MOLIERE'S mixture of fiction and fact will enlighten and delight modern audiences.