Director: Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Eleanor Tomlinson, Denise Gough, Aiysha Hart
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who ended up going by just Colette, was a woman well before her time, and it’s about time they brought her remarkable story to the big screen.
Wash Westmoreland’s film spans from the time Colette fell in love and married the charismatic and dominant Parisian writer, Henry Gauthier-Villars, who went by the nom de plume of Willy, to when she’d eventually had enough of him stealing her limelight.
Willy wasn’t a brilliant writer but was able to spot brilliance in others, and that’s what he did with Colette, who went on to write the wildly popular Claudine series, which he took credit for. The film shows Colette’s struggles of being always under his shadow and eventually breaking free from his clutches.
My name is Gabrielle Colette and the hand that holds the pen writes history.
This film is all about Kiera Knightly’s performance. This was undoubtedly the role she was born to play. It’s the moment where all her little quirks perfectly come together to portray one of the most fascinating women of the twentieth century.
Colette was just a French girl from the countryside, yet she ended up becoming so much more than that, and Knightly’s performance perfectly embodies that character.
She’s come a long way from the pouty girl from those awful Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Love Actually. She’s shown her class before, yet this is really the moment where she has stepped things up again.
The wild days have just begun.
Knightly is also backed up by a brilliant performance from Dominic West as Willy, who’s able to show the character’s despicable and tormented sides, yet at the same time make him somewhat likeable. That said, it is rather evident that West is walking around in a fat suit, yet you can’t have everything, can you?
Before watching this film, I was a little bit trepidatious because I felt it would be a matter of style over substance. Knightly does, of course, get to wear some fabulous dresses, yet, Westmoreland has opted to let the actor’s shine and the rest to take a backseat. That said, the film is an incredibly stylish and good-looking piece of work and manages to portray early twentieth century Paris and the French countryside perfectly.
My name is Claudine. I live in Montigny. I was born there in 1873. I shall probably not die there.
However, if anything, Knightly, Westmoreland’s directorial style is rather subtle in this film. If you were to ask me what his style is after having seen Colette, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Yet, that’s not a bad thing because it puts Colette’s story first and everything else comes in behind it, which is precisely what you want from a film about such an extraordinary character.
Colette is a wonderfully enchanting film. She was a remarkable woman, and Kiera Knightly was born to play the role. It’s a real crowd-pleaser which people should try to seek out, and it tells a story which is very much relevant in today’s age.