16 October 2018 | paul-allaer
Watch it for the stellar performance by Keira Knightley
"Colette" is a biopic about noted French writer Gabrielle Colette. As the movie opens, we are in "Saint Sauveur 1892" where Colette is in a passionate relationship with an older guy nicknamed "Willy" (whose real name we don't know), an entrepreneur/writer/publisher/womanizer. Next we are in "Paris 1893", and the two are now married, and feeling at home as socialites. As always, they need more money to support their life style, and one day, at the encouragement of Willy, Colette writes a book loosely based on her own childhood and youth, "Claudine At School". Published under the nom-de-plume Willy, the book is an unexpected critical and commercial success... At this point we are 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how t all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from UK director (and co-writer) Wash Westmoreland, whose previous film was the Oscar-winning "Still Alice". Here he brings the improbable story of Gabrielle Colette to the big screen. Given the many twists and turns that she encountered in her life, some (but certainly not all) of which are reflected in the movie, I don't want to say a whole lot more about that, so as not to spoil your viewing experience. Do allow me to alert you to the fact that Colette was nominated for the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1948, a fact that is never even mentioned in the movie, not even in the closing moments as to what became of her in later years (the movie covers roughly the years 1892-1905). "Colette" is, as a movie, neither a masterpiece nor a disaster. That is not a strong recommendation obviously, but it's still worth checking out for the stellar performance of Keira Knightley in the title role. It seems as is Knightley threw herself into this role without holding anything back. Dominic West, as Willy, does quite well too but of course plays an inherent unlikable character. I also have to say that I found it a bit off-putting to see all of these characters, living in France, reading French language newspapers, writing French language letters and diaries, etc. all speak... English.
"Colette" premiered to good acclaim at this year's Sundance film festival. It finally opened recently at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The early evening screening where I saw this at was attended nicely (and mostly by seniors for some reason). If you are interested in finding out more about one of the best French female authors of the 20th century, even if the film is far from perfect, I'd recommend you check this out, be it at the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.