Children of the Century (Les Enfants Du Siecle)

on September 13, 2002 by Ed Scheid
This latest film from Diane Kurys ("Entre Nous") depicts the turbulent love affair of writers George Sand (Juliette Binoche, "Chocolat") and Alfred de Musset (Benoit Magimal, "The Piano Teacher"). George Sand (the pseudonym of a female author) meets de Musset in 1832 when she is 29 and he is 23, years before Sand's relationship with the composer Chopin (dramatized in films like "Impromptu"). Against the wishes of his family, de Musset begins a liaison with Sand. When they vacation in Italy, their differences come into focus. De Musset carouses while the much more disciplined Sand writes. They have a series of fiery breakups and reconciliations.

Binoche and Magimal, who both give intense performances, became a real-life couple after working on "Children of the Century." The film is far more successful in showing the passionate nature of Sand and de Musset's love affair than in developing their characters for a modern audience. The screenplay, co-written by Kurys, disappointingly lacks the complexity of her earlier autobiographical films. While the production details are lavish, film has little insight into the historical period and its artists, particularly in how Sand developed a notorious reputation. Starring Juliette Binoche, Benoit Magimel and Stefano Dionisi. Directed by Diane Kurys. Written by Francoise Olivier Rousseau, Marray Head and Diane Kurys. Produced by Diane Kurys and Alain Sarde. An Empire release. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 118 min.

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