Ty Burr
November 01, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Impromptu

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
107 minutes
performer
Hugh Grant, Judy Davis, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Julian Sands, Emma Thompson
director
James Lapine
distributor
MGM Home Entertainment
author
Sarah Kernochan
genre
Historical, Drama

We gave it a B+

They sleep with anything that moves, devour recreational drugs, and live to find fun, new ways to shock the Establishment. Axl and Slash in St. Louis last summer? Nope: George Sand, Franz Liszt, and Eugene Delacroix in the French countryside in 1836. Working from a finely wrought script by wife Sarah Kernochan, first-time film director James Lapine (Broadway’s Sunday in the Park With George) transforms the fusty figures you don’t remember from college humanities classes into characters as accessible as rock stars in Impromptu . Plus, it has Chopin on the soundtrack, French châteaus for sets, and a game cast. Judy Davis is a growling wonder as Sand, the cheroot-smoking, pants-wearing novelist who woos the pallid, tubercular Chopin (Hugh Grant). Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, and Dead Again‘s Emma Thompson give farcical life to the spoiled popinjays in this story of lust among the upper crust. A big old high-art hoot, Impromptu is both full of things that are good for you and not above a few noisy pratfalls. B+

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