Impromptu is a retelling of the oft-filmed George Sand/Chopin story that’s an entertaining comedy-drama. First-time director James Lapine, who’s had Broadway successes (Into the Woods), makes the most of a terrific ensemble. Bright playing, a bit broad at times but fitting the material, is pic’s strongest suit.
Aussie thesp Judy Davis plays Sand, the strong-willed author who dresses mannishly, smokes cheroots and gets a maddening crush on composer Chopin (Hugh Grant at his most foppish). Bulk of film is light-hearted, set at the royal mansion of Emma Thompson and Anton Rodgers, where Chopin, Liszt (Julian Sands), artist Delacroix (Ralph Brown) and an uninvited George Sand show up for vacation.
Film’s tone turns a bit darker in later reels as the duels and fights of the first half turn more serious. Some abrupt editing and overly contrived resolutions of plot threads keep the finale from carrying much emotional force.
Directed by Lapine with a very long leash, Davis is terrific. Bruno De Keyzer captures lovely French locations in realistic terms, not distracting from the protagonists.