Les enfants du siècle (The Children of the Century) (1999)



Critic Consensus: This romance is more soapy than historically compelling.

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Movie Info

While pioneering pre-feminist author George Sand has been the subject of several film biographies focusing on her ten year relationship with Frederick Chopin, Les enfants du siècle looks at an earlier period in Sand's life, in particular her stormy romance with poet Alfred de Musset. In the early 1830's, Baroness Dudevant (Juliette Binoche) has abandoned her husband and arrives in Paris with her children in tow as rioting divides the city. The Baroness decides to reinvent herself and pursue a career as a writer; she renames herself George Sand, begins wearing clothes modeled after men's suits, and smokes cigarettes while penning manifestos denouncing marriage and affirming a woman's right to sexual satisfaction. Alfred de Musset (Benoit Magimel), a noted author, finds her brash nature fascinating, and they become first friends, then lovers as he helps her craft her literary efforts. However, Sand is six years older than de Musset, which leads to a severe conflict with his family; the couple heads to Venice in search of escape and inspiration, but Alfred decides that he prefers the city's brothels to George's company and that they should keep separate rooms from now on. George makes the acquaintance of an Italian doctor, Pagello (Stefano Dionisi), with whom she has a passionate affair; the realization that he's driven her into the arms of another man proves too much for Alfred, who returns to France. Eventually, George leaves Pagello and gives Alfred another chance, a decision she comes to regret. Les Enfants du Siecle had its world premiere at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival.
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
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Juliette Binoche
as George Sand
Benoît Magimel
as Alfred de Musset
Stefano Dionisi
as Pietro Pagello
Robin Renucci
as Francois Buloz
Karin Viard
as Marie Dorval
Isabelle Carré
as Aimee d'Alton
Patrick Chesnais
as Gustave Planche
Arnaud Giovaninetti
as Alfred Tattet
Denis Podalydès
as Sainte-Beuve
Olivier Foubert
as Paul de Musset
Marie-France Mignal
as Madame de Musset
Michel Robin
as Larive
Ludivine Sagnier
as Hermine de Musset
Julien Leal
as Maurice
Pascal Ternisien
as Boucoiran
Jean-Claude de Goros
as Capo de Feuillide
Mathias Mégard
as Delacroix
Robert Plagnol
as Jules Sandeau
Yvette Petit
as Dressmaker
Massio De Rossi
as Danieli Director
Alika Del Sol
as Pretty Half-Caste
Edith Perret
as Dowager at Ball
Marie-Therese Arene
as Second Dowager
Yacha Kurys
as Child at Luxembourg Gardens
Baladine Ardant Conversi
as Child at Luxembourg Gardens
Pablo Amaro
as Italian Coachman
Fabiana Castaldelli
as Italian Nun
Thierry de Peretti
as Achille Deveria
Tony Gaultier
as Porter
Sylvie Herbert
as Concierge
Frank Amiach
as Buloz Employee
Gregory Reznik
as Tattet's Valet
Serge Ridoux
as Tortoni's Waiter
Jean-Noel Fenwick
as Dashing Dancer
Philippe Mangione
as Waffle Seller
Antoni Saint-Aubin
as Swarthy Young Man
Olivier Meidinger
as Austrian Soldier
Segolene Bonnet
as Preening Woman
Michelle Guetta
as Preening Woman
Delphine Quentin
as Russian Girl
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Critic Reviews for Les enfants du siècle (The Children of the Century)

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (14)

In between all the emotional seesawing, it's hard to figure the depth of these two literary figures, and even the times in which they lived. But they fascinate in their recklessness.

Full Review… | March 28, 2003
Miami Herald
Top Critic

The emotion is impressively true for being so hot-blooded, and both leads are up to the task.

Full Review… | February 13, 2003
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

The film's appeal has a lot to do with the casting of Juliette Binoche as Sand, who brings to the role her pale, dark beauty and characteristic warmth.

Full Review… | December 13, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Plays like a volatile and overlong W magazine fashion spread.

November 22, 2002
Boston Globe
Top Critic

It's technically sumptuous but also almost wildly alive.

November 21, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Kurys never shows why, of all the period's volatile romantic lives, Sand and Musset are worth particular attention.

October 8, 2002
The New Republic
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Les enfants du siècle (The Children of the Century)


In "The Children of the Century," Aurore(Juliette Binoche) has taken her children to Paris in1832. And then instantly realizes that might have not have been the smartest move when they come across yet another insurrection and are confronted by all the resultant blood in the streets. Still, she does well when members of polite society like actress Marie Dorval(Karen Viard) take them in. Who almost instantly reject them due to Aurore, writing under the name George Sand, preaching some very forward thinking ideas. At least, Alfred de Musset(Benoit Magimel) is paying attention, whenever he is not busy whoring, that is. "Children of the Century" is a handsomely produced and well-acted biopic that seeks to capture the life of an unusual woman living in tumultuous times, with an emphasis on 1830's medicine. As such, Juliette Binoche may not exactly hit the right notes as a drag king but that's okay as George Sand is not quite yet George Sand, as this is near the beginning of her literary career set during one of her many affairs of the heart that is told from her distinctive point of view.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

(** 1/2): [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon13.gif[/img] The cast is good, but I became bored with the film as it went along. A near-miss.


Visually, this is beautiful. Binoche gives a strong performance as Sand, Magimel is solid as an impetuous, and depraved, de Musset. Costumes, and backdrops, are spectacular. The acting top notch. So why wouldn't I love it? I suppose it's the-- I love him, I hate him, I love him, I hate him, I love him, I hate him, I love him....2.5 hours later, the end. This pretty much sums up this movie for me.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

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