The Children of the Century

(Les Enfants du Siecle)

The Children of the Century feels like is lasts a century. It is a lumbering romance between to nineteenth century French authors whose names mean nearly nothing unless, prior to the movie, one is familiar with their work. Even after the finals credits, it is difficult to get a sense of why these two people were so important, or why anybody should care who they were in the first place. The two lovers are George Sand and Alfred de Musset. Sand (Juliette Binoche, Chocolat, Code Unknown) is had a notorious reputation in literary circles for her views which most people considered radical (nowadays they are relatively tame). She often dressed like a man, which intimidated many people. De Musset (Benoit Magimel, The Piano Player, The King is Dancing) is a much younger novelist and poet, who is instantly infatuated with Sand when he meets her, although she is married.

They begin one of the more boring torrid affairs held on screen. Their affair rises and falls dramatically, as befits two artists, before crashing and burning on an extended trip to Italy. The gist of the relationship is that although Alfred may truly love George, he has no qualms about spreading his love elsewhere. These trysts however, are merely superficial. His heart truly belongs to George. This is not enough for George, who feels at times that Alfred is immature. He would much rather stay up all night drinking and whoring, while she meticulously writes. Their relationship lasts for two years, and at times Children of the Century feels that long. The main problem is with the screenplay by director Diane Kurys (After Love, Six Days, Six Nights), Murray Head, and Francois-Olivier Rousseau (Change My Life, Adela). It neglects to delve into who these two people really were or what drove their relationship, opting instead to focus on a chronological telling of what happened. What the viewer sees is what happens, what they miss is why it is happening.

As a period film, it has all the look right and none of the emotion. Children of the Century feels like an empty exercise in pretty costumes and settings. Binoche is a little more animated than she can be sometimes, and Magimel flies over the top in his portrayal of de Musset. It is all to little avail. The affair as portrayed by Kurys cannot maintain the attention of anybody watching. It is just too uninteresting for anybody to care. By the time their affair begins to lose its spark, it is difficult to see why Sand is still so enraptured with de Musset. She still harbors strong feelings for him, even as he becomes extremely unstable. It comes to the point where Sand looks crazy to keep her passion for de Musset. There is a craziness of love, when someone is so madly in love that they will do anything for the person they desire, but this is not it.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 49 minutes, Not Rated but contains some language and sensuality, a PG-13 or R.

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