Colette (2018)

Director: Wash Westmoreland
Writer: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Cast: Keira Knightley, Fiona Shaw, Dominic West, Eleanor Tomlinson, Denise Gough, Robert Pugh, Sloan Thompson, Arabella Weir, Máté Haumann, Ray Panthaki
Seen on: 7.1.2019

Content Note: abuse

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) grows up in rural France where she meets Willy (Dominic West), author and entrepreneur. They start an affair and eventually, Willy marries Gabrielle and brings her to Paris. Once there, she realizes that Willy has ghostwriters working for him and she quickly becomes roped into his business, too, to try to stave off the continuous money problems. But when she tries her own hand at writing, she finds herself completely under his thumb – at least for a while.

Colette was a fascinating woman so any biopic about her is bound to be interesting, particularly with as engaging a lead as Knightley. There were a couple of weaknesses in the script and a cis person cast as a trans character, but overall, it’s absolutely a solid film.

The film poster showing Colette (Keira Knightley) over the city scape of Paris. Everything is in different hues of pink.

Colette had quite the unusual life, especially for her time and gender. The film certainly captures that and her strengt, and Knightley gives a really strong performance, too. So, at least for someone who knew very little about Colette going into the film, it seems like the film really fulfills the biography part very well.

I was a little unhappy with the fact that they centered the relationship between Willy and Colette so much in the film though, to the detriment of the other meaningful and important relationships she had. I am sure that being married to Willy was absolutely formative for Colette, but I guess so was being in love with Georgie Raoul-Duval (Eleanor Tomlinosn) or Missy (Denise Gough). And I would have loved to see more of them, particularly of the latter.

Colette (Keira Knightley) standing in a doorway, Georgie Raoul-Duval (Eleanor Tomlinosn) in the background.

Speaking of Missy, another no-go was casting Denise Gough in the role. Not that Gough is a bad actor, but Missy was a trans man, so please: cast trans actors in trans roles. It is aggravating and discriminatory to see all these cis people (and usually of the gender assigned at birth of the person they’re playing) play trans roles.

Apart from that the film does have some lenghts and clunky dialogues that keep it from being really good. But it is good enough to be enjoyable and a nice introduction to a fascinating woman for sure.

Colette (Keira Knightley) on a walk with Missy (Denise Gough).

Summarizing: Solid.

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