French films have such a reputation for being slow that I feared the fastest thing about Cycling with Molière might be the bike ride of the title. I was happy to realise how wrong I was.
The film, released in 2013, is a highly engaging tale of two actors.
The first, Serge Tanneur, played by Fabrice Luchini, has become a recluse, hiding himself away on the Île de Ré rather than appear in lightweight roles. The other, Gauthier Valance, played by Lambert Wilson, has happily prostituted his art.
However, the latter’s role in a TV medical soap has given him the means to be able to stage a production of Molière’s Le Misanthrope. He wants to play the part of Alceste and have Tanneur return to the stage to play Philinte.
Several slapstick moments punctuate the drama, perhaps unnecessarily.
“The friendship – and betrayal – at the heart of the film make it absorbing viewing”
Valance has a week to get Tanneur on board. Their bromance starts to unravel, however, with the arrival of an Italian neighbour.
Both men fall for her but only one succeeds.
The friendship – and betrayal – at the heart of the film make it absorbing viewing. In fact, the hour and three-quarters simply fly by. It’s not often you can say that about a French film.