Sting, Phil Collins and Gary Kemp can rest easy: Peter (not Pete) Doherty’s turn as a debauched dandy in search of love plumbs new depths for pop stars turned actors. Sylvie Verhyde’s English-language adaptation of Alfred de Musset’s 1836 novel typecasts him as the dissolute Octave. Doherty’s out-of-place feather-cut hair is a bit less distracting than the way he randomly tilts or turns his head, as if wondering how to mangle the next line of novelistic dialogue. Tracked by Verhyde’s fidgety camera, Octave is deceived in love, plunges into depravity and resolves to be a better man after his father’s death.
A platonic friendship with older widow Brigitte (Charlotte Gainsbourg) offers hope, but she resists his puppy love, yielding only after he feigns suicide. Eventually, the pair escape to Paris, where their romance languishes and jealousy festers. The languid tedium of the couple’s waning love is even duller than the coy orgy scenes and muted passions that precede it.