Keira Knightley in a period piece? Seems like a normal thing and she’s good at it, so who’s complaining? These types of films don’t always work for me because a lot of the time they lack substance and really just flaunt their style, location, and costume design. With Colette I was hoping for something different and an enlightening look into the life of an author I knew little about. I ended up being pleasantly surprised with the film and how interesting it was. Side note, is Dominic West just the smug villain all the time these days?
The film is about the life of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a 17th century French author and performer and her struggle with life with her domineering husband. She writes books about a character named Claudine (based on her own life) and her husband takes credit for her work. She struggles for independence and eventually fulfills her goals in discovering her own sexuality, performing on stage, and winning back the rights to her own work. Directed by Wash Westmoreland who directed a very solid Still Alice.
No surprise here, Keira Knightley is excellent here. I don’t think she can do a bad performance. She lives and breathes every part of Colette. The film has subtle and sly humor and is fairly entertaining throughout. The set design and costumes all breath the would be authenticity of Paris of that time (I mean how would I truly know, right?). I especially liked the Egyptian stage performance scene. The film breathes the embodiment of its time: the style, the class, the debauchery, the seduction, its all there and established well.
The life of Colette is interesting. I’m surprised her husband was so open with her sexuality and her openness to exploring with other women. Otherwise, he’s pretty dreadful in a comedic way. The film delivers on what’s expected. Its another Knightley affair and one that does what it needs to do very well. A good mix of its style and substance, a period piece that I felt worked.