Cycling with Moliere (2013)

June 29th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Philippe Le Guay

Writers: Fabrice Luchini, Philippe Le Guay

Cast: Fabrice Luchini,  Lambert Wilson, Maya Sansa

104min  French with subtitles  Drama

Fabrice Luchini has come to be associated with intelligent French drama and here, in one he devised himself, he plays a well-known thespian Serge Tanneur, who has retreated to a remote manoir on the Ile de Re to recover from a nervous breakdown. Essentially a three-hander, the premise revolves round a bid by successful TV star, Gauthier Valence, to lure him back to Paris to collaborate in his sparkling new production of Molière’s classic comedy of manners: ‘Le Misantrope’.

But Tanneur has a mind of his own, despite its fragility, and an ego that’s second to none in luvviedom. And so this elegant piece goes backwards and forwards as their egos vy for attention, and they embark on a two-week series of rehearsals and play readings in the rain-swept French countryside.

Cycling with Moliere works best during these witty exchanges and literary sorties into the works of Victor Hugo and Charles Baudelaire as Tanneur prepares for his definitive role as the outspoken and unpopular central character, Alceste. And Life starts to mirror Art as it emerges that, in real life, their relationship very much runs along the same lines as Moliere’s two 17th century protagonists Alceste and Philinte.  When the love interest arrives in the shape of an Italian divorcee Francesca (Maya Sansa) the natural underlining comic pessimism of Moliere’s also plays out in the real life denouement. Despite some ill-judged episodes of slapstick humour and a lightweight support cast, Luchini and Wilson keep the show on the road in an entertaining drama that makes great use of its glorious island setting photographed by Jean-Claude Larrieu. MT





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