Impromptu (1991)

JAMES LAPINE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

United Kingdom/France, 1991.  C.L.G. Films, Governor Productions, Les Films Ariane, Sovereign Pictures.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Independent Spirit Awards 1991.  

For some, the idea of making up a story that involves great historical figures of the art world might seem like total sacrilege, but in James Lapine’s delightful romantic comedy the experiment is the stuff of movie magic.  Judy Davis is indomitable as author Georges Sand, who vacations with a group of artists in the home of a wealthy aristocrat (a hilariously dizzy Emma Thompson) and while there comes across both the talents and personal charms of pianist and composer Frederic Chopin (). Unfortunately, she is rivalled by Franz Liszt’s estranged wife () for Chopin’s affections, and must fight some pretty nasty romantic entanglements before seeing her way clear to enjoying an affair with this man whose personality and music have captured her entirely. is perfectly cast as the undeniably (though not unappealingly) self-important Liszt, and the clever script finds good ways to make real lives worthy of fiction.

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