Le Libertin Review

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An 18th century scholar rejects philosophy for the pursuit of carnal pleasures.


Aghion's adaptation of Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's play is a costume romp in the French farce tradition. Apparently, the 18th-century encyclopedist, Denis Diderot (Perez), was more interested in pleasure than philosophy. So, while a conservative cardinal (Serrault) sought to confiscate his illegal printing press, Diderot was desperately trying to diddle a handsome society artist (Ardant).

Considering the wit of the principal characters, the script is lamentably short of bon mots. However, there are a couple of belly-laugh set-pieces, the crudest being Perez's naked pursuit of his suspicious wife around the grounds of a glorious chateau, as eccentric guests look on. Yet for all the Carry On enthusiasm, only the playing of Serrault and Josiane Balasko approaches pantomimic perfection.

At times the talent of the leads is hamstrung by an inadequate script but there are laughs aplenty as the action is delivered with a Carry On-like gusto.