Confession of a Child of the Century (2015) is an adaptation of an 1836 autobiographical novel by French writer Alfred de Musset … and if that isn’t proof enough that I’m not its target market, I don’t know what is. Mid-nineteenth-century French literature is generally misogynistic and bleak, but I was trying to find Children of the Century (which is actually based on the same novel) and came across this … and since we have a review of that, and not this, I took one for the team. And oh, did I.
Musician Pete Doherty (of the bands The Libertines, Babyshambles) plays Octave, who is the son of an aristocrat and SO BORED with the hedonistic lifestyle he lives in Paris… including lots of stellar thoughts about women. See, Octave has had his heart broken by a courtesan, and without ever thinking of the fact that these women are in shitty situations, risking their health (STDs) and unwed pregnancy to be taken care of by men with money only to be cast aside, HE’S the one who is butt-hurt by all these allegedly craven women. What makes this worse is that Octave endlessly narrates this butt-hurt throughout the film, particularly the first third, and OH MY GOD my ass fell off. I’M SO SORRY THE PATRIARCHY ISN’T FUN FOR YOU OCTAVE. Fucking manchildren!
Octave realizes his debauched life isn’t fulfilling, but instead of, ya know, turning his life into something productive to be proud of, he heads off to his father’s estate and “falls in love” with a local widow, basically continuing the same pattern of his previous life, even if there’s less booze involved. I put air quotes around “love,” because this guy doesn’t know what love is. Although he picks Brigitte, a slightly-older country widow of strong character (Charlotte Gainsbourg — Les Misérables, Jane Eyre) as the object of his affection, Octave doesn’t seem to notice that his falling in love with her ends up basically putting her in the role of a courtesan — oh, and then after he wins her, he goes back to being jaded and blasé and basically blames her for all those hard-hearted courtesans who “used” his sensitive little heart. That turn of events is inspired by him finding out that she told him a piano piece she’d composed was written by another composer. From there, he starts suspecting her of cheating on him and endlessly pushes her away. Meanwhile, Brigitte loses what made her interesting — her spine — and ends up begging Octave to keep loving her.
It took Wikipedia after the fact to tell me that this is supposed to be the story of Musset’s affair with writer George Sand, and that’s because there’s no references to Brigitte being a writer or anything other than an intelligent, feeling woman. Apparently this was the lowest-grossing theatrical release of 2015, and I sincerely hope that was because of its whiny, misogynistic world view.
All that bullshit aside, the costumes — designed by Esther Walz (Charité, Pope Joan) — were overall successful, although the most visually interesting were on the courtesans:
The men look like mid-19th century men to me, clothing-wise:
Octave’s hair, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired:
Brigitte is, by necessity, dressed relatively plainly, although her wardrobe goes through an arc:
Did you catch Confession of a Child of the Century? Did you regret your life choices?