At the start of Kurys' tale of high romantic pride and passion in 1830s Paris and Venice, a textural preamble solemnly relates the cultural conditions that held sway at the time of the film's setting. Post-Napoleon, the young have grown up rebellious but lost. Kurys' children of the century are the writer George Sand, née Aurore Dupin (Binoche), and the poet and playwright Alfred de Musset (Magimel), who met and spent a torrid 18 months together. A separated mother of two, Sand had already scandalised Paris with her essays on male sexual chauvinism and female frigidity. After one ill-received reading, the flamboyant Musset comes to her with support and advice, observing for instance that she's too pure to understand the perversity of a perfidious lover. The film describes a brief, picturesque courtship, and has Musset stab his meddling brother with a fork, whereupon the lovers' road together turns rocky. Kurys recreates every capricious twist of their affair with reverential detail, without ever illuminating their hearts, and the impression of abridgement - 19 minutes have been shorn from the original French release - only redoubles the effect of unguided bustle. Well upholstered amour fou.