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  • Warning: Spoilers
    After having discovered that his wife Elise (Lily Cole) has been unfaithful to him, Octave (Pete Doherty) challenges her lover to a duel and, tragically, is shot in the first few minutes of the movie.

    The tragedy - both for the audience and movie - is that Octave survives and the hapless Doherty is doomed to mumble his way through a script that would have left Daniel Day Lewis, at his love-struck best, struggling hopelessly.

    Forced to utter such lines as "Are you loved? Do you want to be loved?", the dejected Doherty looked ready to make a run from the set. The screenplay required that, on a couple of occasions, he arrived and left the scene within minutes and he could barely conceal his relief as he did so. Members of the audience at Cannes followed suit, leaving the theatre, at first one by one and then in small teams.

    Indeed, Confessions of a Child of the Century would have been an ambitious project for a veteran director leading a cast of seasoned actors; French Romantic literature makes difficult reading, let alone adaptation, and the emotional complexities and purple prose of Alfred de Musset's autobiography are as lost in translation as Doherty's talents are lost in the role.

    In spite of savage reviews - Screen Daily's writer, noting that 'rarely has decadence seemed so dull' must have canvassed the same ushers at Cannes as I; they wondered why Doherty had been given the role at all, and why the story hadn't been filmed in its native French.

    Indeed, all is not lost, after all. It's not too late for the movie to be dubbed into French and given English subtitles, it may yet stand a chance. De Musset's sign, a syndrome characterised by involuntary head movements and named after the author, could be used to explain Doherty's strange, palsied gestures, and audiences would be none the wiser to his atrocious acting.

    Alternatively, the dialogue could be removed completely, and footage used as a video for Celine Dion's excellent "Lettre de George Sand à Alfred de Musset".

    And then everybody would be happy.
  • Yes, Pete Doherty appears to be out of his depth having been cast in a leading role here, but then maybe that doesn't matter, because the character he plays is out of his depth. Charlotte Gainsboug is acting her socks off (as usual) and the supporting cast are doing their best. The storyline seems to be an exploration of love, betrayal, jealousy and suchlike and so I found it engrossingly realistic - confusing at times, but then relationships so often are .... There is a bit of muttering and unintelligible whispering going on ( and Doherty is not the main culprit in this respect). But I have seen far worse films than this one with higher ratings, so I suspect that this has been too rigorously condemned - Doherty's manner is eccentric, but he looks the part, and, personally, I just accepted that Doherty's character was eccentric and enjoyed the film on the whole.
  • I was very surprised to read the negative reviews. This story is spot on!!! If it reminds you of Great Gatsby (the DiCaprio version of which followed this movie a year later, in 2013), that is not by accident. Another movie, that comes to mind after seeing it, is Suntan (2016)...

    Without any spoilers, the unfolding of the events of this romantic 'love' has absolutely realistic twists & turns, full of lessons for both the young and the more mature. The acting is really great (Gainsburg never really fails in anything), and I think the story benefited greatly from the fact that the novel was written by a man (Musset), while the script was written by a woman (Verheyde).

    This is an evergreen story, enjoy it, learn from it! 10/10
  • This is an anglo-saxon movie presupposed on The Romanticism of the Early 1800 's of Northern France. Scenes of Celtic Brittany and Germany give it away clearly. The movie is a polemic of sorts showing a viewer that love is either death or life. The obvious and tedious even grating truth is that is is both and neither. Charlotte's genius suffers and still shines through amongst a college theater seeming ensemble type who enjoy dressing up in period pieces for their own enjoyment.

    Why it was made to seem "big"? Not sure. Cannes seems to pick out some movies just because they nod French, sad really, but i suppose they highlight aspects of France's vast cultural influence, how ever trite and shallow they may portray it. Does anyone ever ask if it really serves the purpose then?