Cycling with Moliere – reviews of 'charming' French comedy
Beautifully acted, literate tale of mismatched actors and Moliere is a rare comic treat
What you need to know
French comedy, Cycling with Moliere, is released in UK cinemas today. Written and directed by Philippe Le Guay, the film stars Fabrice Luchini (The Woman on the 6th Floor) and Lambert Wilson (from the Matrix films).
A popular TV star, Gauthier Valence (Wilson), tries to gain some artistic credibility by coaxing the reclusive but well-respected actor, Serge Tanneur (Luchini),to appear in his production of Moliere's The Misanthrope, but egos soon get in the way.
What the critics like
"Beautifully performed by its two leads, Cycling with Moliere is a comic treat," says David Parkinson in Empire. Celebrating classic literature and the art of acting, with a dash of cornball slapstick and a romantic subplot, it is impeccably played and sumptuously filmed.
This "charming Gallic theatrical frolic" will delight Francophiles of a literary bent, says Trevor Johnson in Time Out. And with expertly contrasted central performances that bring out the destructive power of the alpha male competitiveness, this is classy, satisfying fare.
Don't look for the Hollywood remake any time soon because this kind of "charming, literate and sophisticated French film does not fit the spirit of the contemporary studio age", says Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. It's a polished, character-driven tale has flashes of droll humour and deals lightly with topics like ego, friendship, rivalry and love.
What they don't like
"The screenplay is far from seamless" with slapstick moments that don't quite land and one subplot that goes nowhere, says Stephen Holden in the New York Times. But those are small complaints in a story of such charm and zest that its stings tickle more than it hurt.