Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin, better known in the literary world as George Sand, not only took a man's name, but trotted around wearing pants and smoking cigars in public. No great shakes today, but in the 1800s she was perhaps the most famous (or infamous) woman in the world. One of the first original celebrities, aside from her garb and literary output, she was known to inspire many duels and broken hearts among other famous hedonist artists. One character describes her in Impromptu, as "that graveyard." The film engages in a sexual roundelay among Sand's (Judy Davis) many friends -- Eugene Delacroix (Ralph Brown), Alfred DeMusset (Mandy Patinkin), Franz Liszt (Julian Sands), and Frederick Chopin (Hugh Grant). The entire crew heads off to the summer estate of the Duke and Duchess d'Antan (Anton Rodgers and Emma Thompson), invited there by the culture-vulture hosts. Sand takes a bead on the sickly Chopin and spends her time throwing herself at him. Also on hand is Liszt's mistress Marie d'Agoult (Bernadette Peters) and Felicien Mallefille (Georges Corraface), Sand's recently jilted lover. Mallefille is jealous of any of the other guests who glance in Sand's direction and continually challenges them to duels. Marie, on the other hand, is enlisted by Sand to deliver a note to Chopin. But Marie, jealous of Sand, delivers the note substituting her name for Sand's. And as the weekend continues, the sexual merry-go-round continues at full tilt. … More
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as George Sand
as Frederic Chopin
as Marie D'Agoult
as Alfred de Musset
as Franz Liszt
as Duchess D'Antan
as Eugene Delacroix
as Duke D'Antan
as Sand's Mother
as Inn Keeper's Wife
as Chopin's Valet
as Inn Keeper
as Local Doctor
as Baroness Laginsky
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Critic Reviews for Impromptu
Anna Massey, who appears fleetingly as Sand's mother, offers a demonstration of how to make an overpoweringly fine impression in only a few minutes' time.
Despite all this assembled talent, the film stubbornly refuses to come to life.
Director James Lapine pushes the story to its entertaining fullest, exuding a period-costumed sense of fun.
A blissfully high-spirited romp about the circle of writers and musicians in 1830s Paris.
Audience Reviews for Impromptu
"Impromptu" is fun to watch. Even more impressive is that it is based on fact.
George Sand courts Chopin amid 19th Century social conventions including duels and the oppression of women.
A lush costume drama with strong performances by Judy Davis and Mandy Patinkin, Impromptu has all the trappings of a Merchant/Ivory production. Its sly wit and subtle conflicts are always engaging, but what sets this film apart from some of the - for lack of a better word - boredom of Merchant/Ivory's work is the performance by Patinkin. Riding into a woman's bedroom on a horse, drunkenly shooting the officiant of a duel, and a garrulous braggart demeanor, Patinkin injects some energy to a film that desperately needs it. Davis's portrayal of George Sand is believable; no actress can capture Sand's masculine guise and still retain a strain of femininity like Davis.
What bothers me about the film is how the story ends up reinforcing the gender conventions of the time. George Sand pursues Chopin in a hybrid of a masculine assertiveness, but her eventual victory comes with subverting her desires to what's required of a typical female in the 19th Century. Even the man, Chopin, rows the boat in the final montage of coupledom bliss.
Overall, I liked Impromptu for Patinkin and Davis, but George Sand, a revolutionary feminist figure, deserved a better fate.
Suppose for a moment that the basis of all good art (or bad art for that matter ... let's just say Art) was the hot flush of Love's Sweet Call (or Lust for that matter). So then in Europe, in the early 19th Century, a famous collection of artists pursue one another with insane passion, their emotions the fuel for the works we know them by. Here's the unusual plot for a different romcom, a period piece about the rock stars of their day and there's not much to it more than rock has provided us: gender confusion and the usual romcom comedy of errors. There's good ideas here only not completely drawn out.
|George Sand:||I used to think I'd die of suffocation when I was married. Now it's freedom that's killing me.|
|Alfred DeMusset:||It's true. She's a cannibal. She would drink the blood of her children from the skull of her lover and not feel so much as a stomachache.|
|George Sand:||I am not full of virtues and noble qualities. I love. That is all. But I love strongly, exclusively, and steadfastly.|
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