Even Juliette Binoche can't rescue this conventional and visually uninspired romantic drama, which charts the turbulent love affair between two of the key literary figures in 1830s France, the cross-dressing female novelist George Sand (Binoche) and the poet and playwright Alfred de Musset (Sean Penn-lookalike Benoît Magimel).
Having met at a salon reading, the two embark on a passionate relationship, to the disapproval of de Musset's family. They then head for Venice, only for Alfred's dissolute lifestyle - - whoring, drinking, gambling and drug-taking - - to trigger increasingly acrimonious rows with George.
French director and co-writer Diane Kurys serves up some familiar clichés about tortured writers with dialogue such as: "You have to live badly to write well." It's regrettable that little attention is paid to their work, or to the wider society in which they existed.