Music Box has acquired Xavier Giannoli’s “Lost Illusions,” a sprawling costume drama with Benjamin Voisin (“Summer of 85”) and Xavier Dolan (“Mommy”), that competed at the Venice Film Festival and played at San Sebastian.
A critically acclaimed film adaptation of Honoré de Balzac’s literary masterpiece, “Les Illusions perdues,” the movie has now been sold in key markets by Gaumont. The French studio co-produced the film and will give it a wide release in France on Wednesday (Oct. 20).
“Lost Illusions” is one of the biggest budgeted and most anticipated French films this fall. It will have its North American premiere on the closing night of Colcoa, the French film festival in Los Angeles, on Nov. 7.
Cecile de France (“The Young Pope”) and Vincent Lacoste (“Amanda”) complete the lead cast of “Lost Illusions,” with Gerard Depardieu and Jeanne Balibar playing supporting roles.
Voisin stars as Lucien de Rubempré, a young and fiercely ambitious poet from a modest background who engages in a forbidden affair with the baroness Louise de Bargeton (de France). The risk of scandal forces them to flee to Paris, where they could live freely, but Lucien is abandoned by the baroness and finds himself alone and penniless, until he meets a young journalist who takes him under his wing. “Lost Illusions” is one of the most prominent novels by Balzac, who still ranks as the world’s most published French author.
Giannoli and Jacques Fieschi wrote the film, which is a character-driven, multi-layered story filled with rich details about France’s tumultuous 19th century. The film’s satirical take on journalism also strikes a chord in today’s society.
Music Box Films described the film as a “human comedy where everything can be bought or sold, literary success like the press, politics like sentiments, reputations like souls.” The company previously distributed Giannoli’s 2018 film “The Apparition” with Vincent Lindon.
“It’s a pleasure to distribute another film by the imaginative Xavier Giannoli,” said Brian Andreotti, Music Box Films’s head of acquisitions.
“It is simultaneously a sumptuously mounted period piece and a bracingly modern take on journalism and fake news — a satire from two centuries ago that feels uncommonly attuned to the anxieties of the social media age,” added Andreotti. The executive said the film delivers a “vivid and lively depiction of Boulevard theatre and the Parisian demimonde on the cusp of modernity.”
lexis Cassanet, executive VP of international sales and distribution at Gaumont, said the company was “thrilled to work once again with (its) close partner, Music Box Films, on this ambitious, elegant and smart adaptation of Honoré de Balzac’s masterpiece, ‘Lost Illusions.’”
“Xavier Giannoli has accomplished one of his dreams by bringing ‘Lost Illusions’ to the big screen. The different topics of the film strongly resonate with our modern world and will question U.S. audiences about our relationship with art, journalism, fake news and medias,” Cassanet pointed out.
The lushly lensed film has a topnotch key crew including the costume designer Piers-Jean Larroque, who previously worked with Giannoli on “Marguerite” and Christophe Beaucarne, the cinematographer on “Coco Before Chanel.”
Besides “The Apparition,” Giannoli’s past credits include “Marguerite,” a critical and commercial hit that sold in more than 45 territories. “Lost Illusions” was produced by Olivier Delbosc (“8 Women,” “Enter The Void,” “Let The Sunshine In”) at Curiosa Films, and Sidonie Dumas at Gaumont.
The deal was negotiated by Andreotti and Cassanet. Music Box Films will release the film theatrically with a home entertainment plan to follow.