Standing alone onstage, Caubere spends just under 2-1/2 hours chatting about his less-than-pleasant trip to the Cannes festival back in 1977, with a film called “Moliere,” in which he starred. He runs through everything that happened to him at the event, in painstaking detail. In the lengthy monologue, the actor who plays Moliere is named Ferdinand, and he’s sharing a room in Cannes with his g.f., Clemence, and his pal Jean-Claude. The tale features all kinds of outlandish characters, all depicted in caricature form by Caubere, including the obnoxious producer of the film, the over- excited publicist, the crazed photographers and the mimes on the Croisette.
The Cannes trip gets off on the wrong foot when the first press screening of “Moliere” goes badly and Ferdinand has to endure interviews with journalists who make clear their negative feelings about the pic. Then comes the photo shoot, with the photogs forcing him to strike one goofy pose after another.
Caubere is an exceptionally charismatic performer, and his ability to portray a wide variety of characters is impressive. Decked out in formal white shirt, dinner jacket and jeans, Caubere is a manic bundle of energy onstage as he re-enacts much of the action in the stories he’s telling. But the fast-paced, nonstop verbal wordplay becomes exhausting, and Dartigues’ minimalist direction offers little added entertainment value.
Helmer has shot the stage show in fairly static fashion, relying on Caubere’s text and performance to carry the pic. Caubere is shot in front of a stark black backdrop, and, over the course of the pic, the lighting goes from near-darkness to bright, flashing beams of light. Soundtrack is equally pared-down: There are some strange sound effects after around 90 minutes and a bit of classical music toward the end. In the final section, Dartigues suddenly turns the camera on the theater audience after focusing exclusively on Caubere for the majority of the film.