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(aka "Alceste à bicyclette" or "Molière in bicicletta")


directed by Philippe Le Guay
France/Italy 2013


Popular TV star Gauthier Valence (Lambert Wilson, THE BELLY OF AN ARCHITECT) leaves Paris on a secretive mission to Île de Ré to visit reclusive former actor Serge Tanneur (Fabrice Luchini, CLAIRE'S KNEE) under the pretense of passing through while looking for vacation property in the area whose microclimate means plenty of rain and rare sunny days. Serge is uninterested in talking about acting until Gauthier makes the provocative offer of a role in his stage production of Molière's comedy of manners "The Misanthrope". Serge is intrigued until Gauthier reveals that he wants him to play the secondary role of Philinte, foil to the meatier lead role of Alceste, a role so complex that that Serge has been working on his interpretation for years. Gauthier suggests alternating the roles but Serge is reluctant to return to the stage and proposes a week's rehearsal before he makes his decision. During the rehearsals, Gauthier is alternately enthralled by Serge's reading of Philinte and exasperated by his critique of Gauthier's delivery (dropping syllables off the Alexandrine verses) and interpretation (his need to invent backstory to justify Alceste's anger). The arrival into their temporarily cloistered lives of Italian divorcee Francesca (Maya Sansa, GOOD MORNING, NIGHT) brightens up Serge's existence since she shares his offputting bluntness (immediately dismissing actors as narcissistic). Serge seems to soften towards Francesca (he even cancels his vasectomy) and Gauthier (giving him advice on his reading of Alceste and being less patronizing in his appraisal of Gauthier's performance on his TV show), but Francesca is the first to recognize Serge's true motives.

An elegant and intellectual comedy, BICYCLING WITH MOLIÈRE is based on an idea by actor Luchini and director Philippe Le Guay around the time that they made THE WOMEN ON THE 6TH FLOOR. In an interview, Le Guay describes Luchini - with his own tendency towards misanthropy, and his own obsession with the Molière play - as the inspiration for the Serge character and Gauthier as his own "on-screen representative", as well as Luchini's original conception of doing the story as an improvised DV production. The film is structured around eight rehearsals of the first act and scene of the play, pertinent to exploring the philosophical positions of the two characters within the play and the actors playing them: although Gauthier wants to play Alceste, he shares more in common with Philinte in what his desire to help Serge and his deference to convention. Serge is more outwardly misanthropic and thinks of himself as being in exile as Alceste desires (and even invents a backstory to justify the former character's anger). The roles seem to reverse as Gauthier's patience is tested not only by Serge but also by the innkeeper – who wants him to give acting advice to her porn actress daughter Zoë (Laurie Bordesoules) – the local real estate agent (Ged Marlon, FOOL MOON), and a taxi driver (Stéphan Wojtowicz, THE HEDGEHOG) who he attempts to help by recommending a specialist for his mother's physical therapy. Serge, on the other hand, falls for Francesca who at first seems like a personification of Philnte's love interest (but betrays Serge in a way that vaguely corresponds to that of Alceste's beloved Célimène). In the climax, Serge becomes Alceste in a way while Gauthier unknowingly takes on the persona of another character. A reading of the play is not necessary to follow the film, but it does enhance one's appreciation of it; it's still an elegant, sophisticated, and cute comedy with some barbed criticism of acting, cinema, and theatre as well as some knowing, loving winks to JULES AND JIM.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 16 January 2013 (France)


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DVD Review: Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Strand Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:45:08

1.81:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.58 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Strand Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.81:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:50)
• Trailers for 'Stranger by the Lake', 'The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears', 'The Missing Picture'

DVD Release Date: August 5th, 2014

Chapters 8



Strand Releasing's dual-layer disc features a high-bitrate, progressive, anamorphic encode sports nice close-ups but some faint edge enhancement gives a digital look to the wider shots (particularly the extra long shots). The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is well-suited to the intimate nature of the film with front-heavy, dialogue-dominated interior scenes and mostly weather sounds and music reaching the surrounds. The optional English subtitles appear to be British in original with the informal "cos" popping up quite a bit.


Although there are no extras besides the U.S. theatrical trailer - which has burnt-in subtitles and blurs out profanity and types a replacement over it - the screener came with a pressbook printout that includes several pages of text interviews with Le Guay, Luchini, and Wilson that might have at least made a good booklet. The disc also includes trailers for other Strand releases.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Region 1 - NTSC


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