Depardieu's directorial debut is difficult to assess, since it is little more than a long, sombre and stately record of the Molière play. The sets are minimal, and since the camera doesn't move much, the film exists for the performances. Happily, these are excellent. As the grasping, lecherous cleric who takes over a gullible man's household, Depardieu is arrestingly different from the comically robust reading embodied in Anthony Sher's stage performance. This false devout is a loathsome creation, his cunning as bloodless as his white face make-up. His evil is beyond explanation, like something vampirical from German Expressionist cinema; and the closing shot of him lying powerless on the floor, staring into the camera, is deeply unsettling. The hapless householder Orgon (Périer) is persuaded to surrender his daughter - a stunning moment from Laptower as she screams soundlessly - and his property to the intruder, and only comes to his senses when his wife (Elisabeth Depardieu) exposes Tartuffe as a lecher. One either surrenders to the slow drip of Molière's mesmerism or one doesn't.
Cast and crew