THURSDAY, 21 NOVEMBER – 7.30pm
2018 | UK-US-Hungary | Drama-Biopic | Directed by Wash Westmoreland. Starring Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, Eleanor Tomlinson. 111 min. Rated 15.
A radiant Keira Knightley (Atonement, Anna Karenina) gives a career-best performance in this exhilarating, entertaining and timely film about the life of groundbreaking French novelist Colette, best known for Gigi. Directed by Wash Westmoreland (co-director of Still Alice) and produced by Christine Vachon (producer of Todd Haynes’ Carol), the film premiered at Sundance 2018 to rave reviews highlighting its relevance in the #MeToo era of female empowerment.
In Belle Époque France, Colette’s marriage to Henry ‘Willy’ Gauthier-Villars (a juicy role for Dominic West) thrusts her from a simple country life in Burgundy to the raucous creative demi-monde of Paris. Swiftly developing her literary talents, Colette’s first novels are nonetheless published under her Svengali-like husband’s name. Willy, an author in his own right, basks in the glory bestowed upon the wildly popular ‘Claudine’ stories, actually penned by his wife.
Theirs is a complex marriage, depicted with intelligence and subtlety, as are Colette’s relationships with women – including American-in-Paris Georgie Raoul-Duval (Poldark‘s Eleanor Tomlinson) and cross-dressing noblewoman Mathilde de Morny, or Missy (Denise Gough), with whom Colette shared Paris’ first documented same-sex kiss on stage.
Whip-smart, precocious and unapologetic, not only is Colette shown to be a uniquely talented author (nominated in 1948 for the Nobel Prize in Literature), actor and journalist, but also a feminist trailblazer, fighting for the survival of her voice in a male-dominated world and shining a light for future generations of female artists.
“There’s lift and lightness to its best scenes, amid spirited homages to the era’s art, both in Colette’s deliciously vampish treading of the boards, and in some Sunday strolls through Parisian parks as only Seurat imagined them.” – Tim Robey, The Telegraph ★★★★
“Director Wash Westmoreland gives us a heroine as mighty as anything from Marvel, given vivid life by Knightley in the role of this fearless actor’s career.” – Danny Leigh, Financial Times ★★★★
“Colette’s life is deserving of nuance and care, and that’s what she gets in this film.” – Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian ★★★★