Georges Corraface as Felicien Mallefille, Anna Massey as George Sand's Mother, David Birkin as Maurice, Nimer Rashed as Didier, Fiona Vincente as Solange, John Savident as Buloz, Lucy Speed as Young Aurora, Elizabeth Spriggs as Baroness Laginsky, Jezabelle Amato as Innkeeper's Wife, Claude Berthy as Chopin's Valet, André Chaumeau as Priest, Nicholas Hawtrey as Philosopher, Isabelle Guiard as Princess, Fernand Guiot as Butler, Sylvie Herbert as Sophie, Annette Milsom as Ursule, Jean-Michel Dagory as Innkeeper, François Lalande as Local Doctor.
Since getting divorced, Baroness Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, previously Baroness Dudevant, the successful and notorious writer of sensational romance novels now living under the pseudonym George Sand, in Paris, has been in the habit of 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 Sand is advised that she must act like a man pursuing a woman, though she is also advised to avoid damaging his health by not pursuing him at all. With this advice Sand is deterred by a fellow countrywoman who pretends to be smitten with Chopin, the mistress of Franz Liszt, the Countess Marie d'Agoult. Whether the Countess is really in love with Chopin is unlikely; she seeks only to prevent a relationship between Chopin and Sand. Sand meets Chopin in 1836 the French countryside at the house of the Duchess d'Antan, a foolish aspiring socialite ( GEORGE SAND: Has anyone ever met this duchess? MARIE D'AGOULT: No. FRANZ LISZT: Must be one of those titled tarts stuck in the provinces with an uncouth husband. EUGENE DELACROIX: She's probably famished for culture and determined to import it at any cost. ) who invites artists from Paris to her salon in order to feel cosmopolitan. Sand invites herself, not knowing that several of her former lovers are also in attendance. A small play Noah and the flood is written by Alfred de Musset satirizing the aristocracy, Chopin protests at his lack of manners, de Musset bellows and a fireplace explosion ensues. Chopin is briefly swayed by a beautifully written love letter ("I'm not full of virtues and noble qualities. I love, that is all. But I love strongly, exclusively, steadfastly.") ostensibly from d'Agoult, a letter actually written by, and stolen from, Sand. Eventually Sand wins over Chopin when she proves that she wrote the letter, reciting its words to him passionately, and after buying a copy of her memoir he finds the text of the letter in the book. Chopin is then challenged to a duel by one of Sand's ex-lovers. He faints during the face-off. Sand finishes the duel for him and nurses him back to health in the countryside, solidifying their relationship. Near the end of the movie, Sand and Chopin dedicate a volume of music to the countess, although this only suggests that she has had an affair with Chopin, causing a falling-out with her lover Liszt. Sand and Chopin depart for Majorca, relieved to escape the competitive nature of artistic alliances and jealousies in Paris.
Quotes from movie
CHOPIN'S VALET: Madame Aurora Dudevant.
GEORGE SAND: Aurora is the name I was born with.
FREDERIC CHOPIN: Aurora. What a lovely name. The dawn.
FREDERIC CHOPIN: I'm not happy with it.
GEORGE SAND: Why?
FREDERIC CHOPIN: Because a perfect impromptu should seem spontaneous and free. No-one should be able to guess at the desperate calculation behind it. I've been struggling with this for so long. It's like being tangled in a net. I feel I have terrible dreams at night. I think if I ever finish it, then it will have finished me. You must suffer tortures to find the perfect word that will make it all seem effortless.
GEORGE SAND: Me? Suffer for art? You must be joking. I suffer quite enough for life. I have no hope to be perfect. I simply pump out pages for money.
FREDERIC CHOPIN: No, your books are admirable. I've been reading them.
GEORGE SAND: Have you? Is this your family?
FREDERIC CHOPIN: No, that's my fiancee. Well, we are no longer engaged. Her family didn't feel that I was a very good risk for a husband. No one expects me to live very long.
GEORGE SAND: Balls!
FREDERIC CHOPIN: I beg your pardon?
GEORGE SAND: Look, I don't believe you're ill at all. You just need more strength. Take mine. Really. I have too much of it.
Awards and nominations
Independent Spirit Awards: Best Female Lead for Judy Davis (won); Best Supporting Female for Emma Thompson (nominated).
Soundtracks for Impromptu
contains: music by Frederic Chopin ( Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat major Op. 29; Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23; Polonaise in A major "Military" Op. 40, No.1; Etude in E minor "Wrong Note" Op. 25, No. 5; Prelude in G-sharp minor Op. 28, No. 12; Prelude in D-flat major "Raindrop" Op. 28, No. 15; Etude in G-flat major "Butterfly" Op. 25, No. 9; Nouvelle Etude No. 1 in F minor; Etude in C-sharp minor Op. 10, No. 4; Waltz in D-flat major "Minute" Op. 64, No. 1; Fantasy-Impromptu in C-sharp minor Op. 66; Nocturne in F major Op. 15, No. 1; Etude in A-flat major "Aeolian Harp" Op. 25, No. 1.); music by Franz Liszt (Apres d'une lecture de Dante; Transcendental Etude No. 4 "Mazeppa"; Grand galop chromatique); music by Ludwig van Beethoven (Symphony No.6 in F major "Pastoral")
Sarah Kernochan long nourished a serious passion for Chopin's music, but when she read an account of his 10-year relationship with George Sand, she felt this great romance was a potentially funny story. Here was a mannish woman pursuiung a womanish man, and at every turn the gender roles were reversed. When writing some of the romantic scenes, she even wrote the action and dialogue as befitted a man courting a woman, and then simply switched the names!
The film was shot entirely on location in France as a British production by an American company. The main location used was at the Chateau des Briottières outside of Angers, in the Loire Valley.