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Film / Impromptu

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"You won't get him with a dress; on the contrary, my dear. I know the man. He is not a man; he is a woman. He is all emotion and refinement. He has very few defenses. You must win him as a man wins a woman; if anyone can do it, you can, George."
Marie D'Agoult

Impromptu is a 1991 movie directed by James Lapine and starring Judy Davis and Hugh Grant, based on the true romance between bold female writer George Sand and shy male composer Frédéric Chopin. Emma Thompson, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters and Julian Sands co-star.

Since getting divorced, Aurora Dupin, the successful writer of sensational romance novels now living under the pseudonym George Sand, in Paris, has been dressing like a man. In her romantic pursuit of the sensitive Chopin, whose music she fell in love with before seeing him in person, George/Aurora is advised that she must act like a man pursuing a woman. She is also advised to avoid damaging his health by not pursuing him at all.

Sand meets Chopin in the French countryside at the house of the Duchess d'Antan, an aspiring socialite who invites artists from Paris in order to feel cosmopolitan. Sand invites herself, not knowing that several of her former lovers are also going to arrive.

Sand wins over Chopin. Chopin is eventually challenged to a duel against another of Sand's ex-lovers. He faints during the face-off. Sand finishes the duel by shooting the other duelist in the arm and nurses Chopin back to health in the countryside.

At the end of the movie Sand and Chopin leave for Majorca, relieved to escape the competitive nature of artistic alliances and jealousies in Paris.

Tropes Used:

  • Beta Couple: Marie and Franz for George and Chopin
  • Celibate Hero: Chopin's tuberculosis makes him a little hesitant to take things to the next level with Aurora.
    Frederic Chopin: Certain acts are... uh, unseemly. They are unsuitable.
    George Sand: Chopin... it's an act of love! It's the divine mystery itself!
    Frederic Chopin: You must think I'm inexperienced, but I assure you, I was baptized... in the brothels of Paris, when I first arrived. But, um... I'm so ill... and I have been for such a long time, and my body is such a great disappointment to me, that I've already said goodbye to it, I'm... not really * in it* any more, I'm just... happier floating about in music. And if I should come back... inside this miserable collection of bones, then I... am afraid that it would probably collapse altogether. Forgive me. I'm ashamed.
    George Sand: No, no. Forgive me. I'm a fraud, you know. "Divine mystery"? I never experienced that with anyone!
  • Delicate and Sickly: Chopin. He doesn't have a diagnosable illness at this point in his life, but he is rather frail and delicate.
  • Free-Range Children: George just lets her son and daughter run wild, which becomes a problem when they discover gunpowder
  • Jerkass: George's friend Marie tries to woo Chopin as well for a combination of spite and because she wants to be the mistress of the better composer
    • Albert and George essentially cowrote the play they perform for their hosts at the country estate, which is clearly mocking them. Eventually Chopin (who was providing the music) refuses to participate any more because he considers the whole thing ungrateful.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: A 19th Century borderline-Lad-ette with a Tomboyish Name pursuing a sensitive prettyboy.
  • Visual Metaphor: Albert rides into George's room on a horse and they have an argument. Eventually they realize that the horse has taken a dump on George's writing, and Albert snarks that the horse is a critic.