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France, 1984 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Gerard Depardieu

This first feature directed by Gerard Depardieu is an elegant record of his successful stage interpretation of Le Tartuffe. This is no brisk updating of Mohere's classic satire on hypocrisy, but at 140 minutes a solidly faithful translation of Jacques Lassalle's production for the Theatre National de Strasbourg. Depardieu makes a handsome evil genius, nudging his seduction of Orgon's household nearer that of Terence Stamp in Pasolini's Theorem. It is an audacious, defiantly theatrical and sinisterly sombre film, immaculately acted by a disciplined cast that ironically includes Depardieu's wife, Elizabeth, as one of the targets of the hypocrite's desire. It looks, appropriately, ravishing, and as filmed on the cavernous Strasbourg stage and in the Eclair studios in Epinay offers formal groupings that echo the measured tread of the rhyming couplets, where emotions run counter to the uttered rhythms. A truly serious comedy.

- Phillip Bergson

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