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Impromptu Review

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The strange and unusual courtship of the novelist George Sands (Davis) and Frederic Chopin (Grant). He was a frail composer, she was a true eccentric. She pursued him, while he, despite fears for his health, grew to love her.

★★★★

"I'm not a very good bet for a husband," confesses Hugh Grant's Chopin seriously, "I mean, no-one expects me to live very long." The odds on the consumptive genius' survival get longer when eccentric lady author George Sand decides to free herself from the various lovers scattered behind her in order to jump on him. Swapping between swinging 19th century Paris and the gorgeous French countryside, first-time director Lapine charts the haphazard wooing of Chopin by Sand, one of the century's great eccentrics, who prefered to dress like a man, smoked cigars, and wrote racy - rather than truthful - accounts of her adventures.

The resulting melodrama is fast and often chaotically funny with duels, forged love letters, satire, slapstick, daft French gentry, lots of running around and much throbbing in the trousers. Lapine's stage experience helps keep Sarah Kernochen's wordy script delightfully afloat on terrific performances from Davis, Grant and Patinkin, and the threads of absurdity which run through the whole piece give it a curiously modern flavour which re-enforces rather than detracts from its genuineness.

Bringing the lives and loves of great artists to the screen has rarely been done with such bottle - Impromptu manages to pull it off with a deftness and panache that makes success seem inevitable.

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