Moliere is a down-and-out actor and playwright who is up to his ears in debt. The wealthy Jourdain offers to cover that debt so that Molière's theatrical talents might help Jourdain win the heart of a certain widowed marquise. Disguised as a priest, Molière becomes a guest in Jourdain's palace on the subtext of teaching Jourdain the craft of the stage, all this to the annoyance of Jourdain's wife, Elmire. But, soon after, the confrontation between Elmire and Molière turns seductive. Jourdain enlists the aid of a well-connected and scheming acquaintance to help him pursue the widowed marquise.
The Plot Summary: The well-studied life of France's greatest contribution to the world of the theater, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin dites Moliere, contains a two-year-long gap. No facts are known about that time, and no documentary evidence has surfaced in the past 400 years to fill in that infinitesimal blip. Well, hell, thought Laurent Tirard, lemme plug that there hole with a story that explains the later appearance of such timeless characters as The Miser and Tartuffe.
And did he ever. The gap contains Elmire and Jourdain, the bourgeois couple so viciously skewered and so lovingly limned in The Bourgeois Gentleman, and Tartuffe himself, in his stiff-necked foolishness, his crafty ineptitude, is revealed to be Moliere himself. Oh gosh, oh golly, what a sheer joy to know now that I've seen this fiction that Moliere was the man he satirized! The movie is a mashup of the plots of Tartuffe and The Bourgeois Gentleman, meaning slamming doors, foolish misunderstandings, lots of salacious smooching, and laughs that hurt, laughs that come from painful identification with the person laughed at, and also the sense that one is superior to that person.
My Review: Bearing in mind that my normal review for all plays, Aeschylus to Stoppard and points between, is “plays, blech,” the plays of Moliere are exceptionally diverting things...comedies, in the same sense that life is a comedy. That is to say, funny if you're a sick fuck. Well, that's me, because Tartuffe causeth me to split my sides and The Bourgeois Gentleman gave unto me a hernia from prolonged mirth. As this movie combines the best bits of both, I had a rollicking good time, and the actors were absolutely marvelous in their roles.
The ending made me cry like a little girl reading Little Women for the first time.
I had to deduct .0001 star for being French.