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September 4, 2019

Colette (2018) --- “French Literature Is About To Change”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     It’s 1892 France and struggling self-important writer Henry “Willy” Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West) marries naive country girl Sidone-Gabrielle “Colette” (Keira Knightley) and shows her the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Due to Willy’s extravagant spending on mistresses and other things, the couple finds themselves with big money problems so Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him and the results spark a bestselling cultural sensation. Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris but their success proves to put an even bigger strain on their marriage. Follow Colette as she fights for creative ownership, overcomes gender roles and societal constraints that revolutionize literature, fashion, and sexual expression. 

     Directed by Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice) and co-written alongside Robert Glatzer (Still Alice) and Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Ida), Colette (2019) is a sharp and multi-layered biopic look into the interesting life of Colette, a French feminist icon of the 19th and 20th century. The annoyance level that Colette goes through is communicated quite well and even though it relies upon tensed awkward moments, the emotions never feel shallow and the energy never wears off. Westmoreland takes you to different places with a message that bodes well as the film’s metaphor by focusing on a marital issue due to fame, art, and legacy, the story’s emotion is elevated to a much larger scale. At the time, Colette’s activities might have seemed scandalous but even by today’s standards, it can be seen as almost dated. On the other hand, her career as a writer was much more prolific. She is best known for her novel Gigi which was later turned into a very successful musical both in film and theater. But there is more to her story that this film does not touch on and there were even some rumors to suggest that she wasn’t always the nicest person to be around. 
     The acting is top-notch all around. So far Keira Knightley (The Aftermath) has had an incredible career and her performance here is no exception. Colette is a free-spirited, independent, avant-garde, open-minded and ahead-of-her-time artist and Knightly’s portrayal breaths life into the film at every turn. In contrast, Dominic West’s (Les Miserables) performance as Willy brings a level of grittiness that the film despretly needed. West makes you clench your fists at almost every scene he is in and the injustice of his character is justified by his overbearing opinions and devilish performance. This flamboyant character provides a nice antagonist for Colette and in turn, helps drive the film. The rest of the cast performances do an incredible job with their respective performances. Some you love to hate, some you hate to love, and some you simply love.  
     Overall, Colette (2018) is an entertaining and compelling film that focuses on the relatively short-lived relationship between Colette and her philandering husband. The story is sharp and multi-layered, while the cast performances are solid throughout. All in all, this is a good period piece that offers some meaningful insight into the interesting life of Colette, well at least the first half. I highly recommend that you check out this film because I think you will be just as intrigued as me.

Final Vote --- 6.8 of 10 stars

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1 comment:

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