A French film written and directed by Pierre-Henry Salfati, this rather tedious period picture takes off from the alleged practice in late 18th-century England of well-to-do salons adopting as house pets and conversation pieces hermits who were ejected from British monasteries for being too pious. According to this movie, the craze for salon hermits was exported to the Continent, at least to the extent that one such hermit turns up in a crate at the wealthy estate of a French noble family. The wife of the nobleman, whose name is Tolerance, takes this bearded, unkempt hermit pretty seriously, which winds up threatening the stability of her marriage; the hermit asks the nobleman at one point to teach him debauchery, which for him represents the ultimate self-sacrifice. None of this is very convincing, and the satirical possibilities of the conceit, which cry out for the steely control of a Peter Greenaway, are frittered away in peripheral details. I previewed thisor, rather, most of thison video, and some decorous cinematography and Mozart on the soundtrack weren’t enough to keep my finger from the fast-forward button. With Ugo Tognazzi (as the nobleman), Rupert Everett, Anne Brochet, and Laszlo Szabo.

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