Bicycling with Moliére

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In this warm, funny, literate comedy, two French actors portray two French actors, friends at odds with one another in every possible way, except with regard to their love for performing Molière’s The Misanthrope. Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men) plays Gauthier: tall, handsome, and the beneficiary of a leading role in a wildly popular, wildly ridiculous soap opera; he is a beloved cosmetic surgeon who “saves lives.” Regarding the random nature of his good fortune, Gauthier is both embarrassed and defensive; he seeks to re-establish his acting bona-fides by starring in and directing Molière on the Paris stage. Fabrice Luchini (The Women on the 6th Floor) plays Serge, a serious actor-turned middle-aged curmudgeon who has met with far less professional success. He has renounced the stage to live on the glorious île de Ré, located off France’s Atlantic coast. Gauthier arrives on Serge’s turf to try to convince his reluctant pal to return to Paris to play opposite him in a new production of The Misanthrope. A tumultuous, and often hilarious, five-day struggle ensues to bring the great actor out of the shadows. When not arguing or rehearsing scenes while biking along the island’s windswept beaches, they consider their options – as personified by a local porn actress and an attractive Italian divorcée – as well as the ever-present lure of island real estate. After The Women on the 6th Floor, director Philippe Le Guay brings us another delicious, smart and cruel comedy about the pleasures of playing with words, arguing, discussing and rehearsing a play. (Dir. by Philippe Le Guay, 2013, France, in French with English subtitles, 104 mins., Not Rated, Strand Releasing) Digital