What’s It About?
The rise of writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who ultimately has the strength to go it alone and reclaim her work, after years of her husband abusing her trust and claiming credit for her work.
Who’s In It?
Keira Knightley (Pirates Of The Caribbean, Pride & Prejudice, & more recently The Imitation Game)
Dominic West (The Wire, Appropriate Adult, The Affair & more recently Tomb Raider)
Other notables include:
Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter, True Blood, & more recently Killing Eve)
Denise Gough (’71, & more recently Juliet, Naked)
Director: Wash Westmoreland (The Last Of Robin Hood, Still Alice)
Keira Knightley is certainly no stranger to period dramas after fine performances in Pride & Prejudice, The Duchess, even Anna Karenina, but it would be fair to say that Colette is unlike most period pieces.
Written by the team behind Still Alice - Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (who also happened to direct it), Colette is a wonderfully paced film which subverts the standard period piece. We are initially introduced to Sidonie-Gabielle Colette as a young seemingly naïve girl in rural France, who looks likely to marry the much older and worldly wise family friend, Henri Gauthier-Villars in what one would expect would be a steep learning curve. But as it turns out, the two have been sneaking off to the barn for steamy sessions, and Colette is a girl who very much has her eyes wide open.
Henri, a larger-than-live bon viveur, and a high-spending high-living publisher and critic, paints the town, in this case Paris, red while exposing his wife Colette to all manner of things. Furthermore, Henri, aka Willy, is also trying to build a team of writers to produce a variety of content under his name, but a limited talent pool and a fondness for spending soon sees Willy wind up in trouble.
In desperation, he turns to Colette and the scribblings he had vaguely encouraged, only to find that the general public can’t get enough of her tales of schoolgirls’ wants and desires. Desperate to cash in, he demands more stories from her, while quite happily pocketing the cash and the acclaim, until eventually Colette stands up for herself and attempts to reclaim her work and reputation.
Dominic West and Keira Knightley deliver two wonderful performances as the two flawed leads, displaying enough chemistry to make the initial romance totally plausible, but equally enough cruelty and failings to establish the decline of their relationship.
Beautifully shot, the film is also told with a wonderful pace and atmosphere that really seems to capture the essence of the late 19thCentury time period.
In A Nutshell:
A fascinating and well-paced story with two outstanding performances with wonderful chemistry as the two leads.