Starring: Keira Knightley (Pirates BLACK PEARL , DEAD MAN’S CHEST , WORLD’S END , and NO TALES , COLLATERAL BEAUTY , EVEREST , BEGIN AGAIN , and upcoming films THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS  and BERLIN, I LOVE YOU ) and Dominic West (TOMB RAIDER , MONEY MONSTER , and JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN )
Support: Fiona Shaw (LIZZIE , and Harry Potters SORCERER’S STONE , CHAMBER , AZKABAN , PHOENIX , and DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 ), Denise Gough (JULIET NAKED ), and Eleanor Tomlinson (ALICE IN WONDERLAND  and THE ILLUSIONIST )
Director/Co-writer: Wash Westmoreland (STILL ALICE , and the upcoming EARTHQUAKE BIRD )
Co-writers: Richard Glatzer – rest in peace, sir (STILL ALICE – rest in peace, sir) and Rebecca Lenkiewicz (DISOBEDIENCE )
Composer: Thomas Adès (feature film debut; congrats, sir)
Cinematographer: Giles Nuttgens (HELL OR HIGH WATER )
Editor: Lucia Zucchetti (THEIR FINEST  and OUR KIND OF TRAITOR )
This is my honest opinion of: COLETTE
Set in France, circa between 1892 and 1905. Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is a country girl who falls in love with the wealthy theater critic, Willy (Dominic West) and eventually marry. He eventually wants to write his own books and enlists Gabrielle to fictionalize her time as a young girl in the country, but the author will be under his name. As time goes on and Gabrielle realizes her own talent and wishes to be recognized for it, this puts a strain on her marriage to a man who refused to share credit.
I liked this one. Sorry folks, I’m typing this while under the influence of two double Jack and Cokes. Please forgive any and all grammatical errors.
Let’s get this out of the way, Knightley knocks it out of the park like she always does. Gabrielle is a traditional farm girl, but still pretty well-educated. While her husband is the big shot writer, she’s the one who slaves over his work, correcting grammar, or otherwise making his work seem better than it really might be. While it may take her some time to acknowledge that she’s her own artist, completely separate from Willy, who basically leeches off of her talent. She loves him, but she doesn’t always tolerate his crap. When he cheats on her, she’s outraged and leaves him. Given the time period, though, it’s semi-understandable that she would take him back. She’s strong-willed, isn’t afraid to act independently, and definitely not afraid to translate her personal woes into the books she writes for Willy, even if it technically and subtly paints him in a negative light. She’s bad-ass in her own, downplayed way.
Even West kind of steals the show. He’s clearly a dude who feels like he’s on top of the world with that he defines as talent. As an amateur film critic myself, I absolutely abhor how he says something negative about everything that isn’t his own work. Every play is “amateur” but has “some” merit to it. You know, he’s that kind of dick-weed, as only West can bring to life in any believable fashion. Again, given the time period, he’s not exactly a despicable person… I mean, he is, but he’s a well-meaning despicable person, if that makes any sense. He’s a product of his environment and his success, which isn’t a compliment or an excuse considering my environment and upbringing. He knows that anything that Gabrielle tries to publish under her own name will result in failure. Female writers of the late 1800s, early 1900s aren’t the most successful, or taken all that seriously and he knows it and could be debated if he exploits it, or just happily succumbs to it. In short, West delivers a perfect “love to hate” character. I love this man. What makes it even more frustrating is that he’s a dude who seems to legitimately love Gabrielle. Yeah, there’s passion in their marriage. He tries his hardest to show that he’s a thoughtful and caring husband. That doesn’t excuse the cheating and secrets, but it’s hard to completely hate the man.
I have to say, this script has quite a few moments. One of my favorite moments is when Willy is comparing bad theater. I forget the particulars, but he said something like “You can put a bad book down and forget about it, but a bad theater performance is like a dental visit. You’re forced to sit in your chair and endure the agonizing pain.” I really enjoyed that bit and even compare that to film… although, most cinemas will grant a refund or exchange within the first thirty minutes of a movie that you disagree with. Still, fun comparison.
I even enjoy the little details that the movie implements. Like in many scenes, Gabrielle is seen eating an apple. I don’t know why, but little details like that tickle me. I like seeing snacks that characters dine on, whether they’re apples, carrots, or processed potato chips, it all makes them feel more real. And you gotta love the impact that Colette’s character, Claudine, had on the general public. Not just the outfits, but how some women took the character too far. I distinctly remember Colette referencing a “Claudine murderess” who murdered her husband, which was a point of comedy when it’s at the height of her hatred for Willy.
I won’t lie, I have my complaints. Please don’t hate me.
I absolutely hate characters in film that are artists that can’t take criticism. I mean, seriously. Art comes in all forms. Writing, painting, sculpting, plays, motion picture, you don’t get into a career like this without facing a fair share of haters. So what’s with characters like this that can’t take the negativity their way? Any up and coming artist would take the criticism and balance. What’s negative and what’s positive. If the majority is positive, bathe in it and accept that you’re mostly liked. But if it’s the opposite, take the legitimate constructive criticism and learn from it. Don’t get too wrapped up in your own brain that you’re somehow the perfect mind to enlighten the world on your vision. No mind ever will be, so accept that your own vision and beliefs have a few flaws and accept that your critics may have a point and, as I said, learn from it.
Oh, and if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve likely seen that moment where Gabrielle is locked in that room by Willy and forced to write. What the trailer doesn’t tell you is that she’s locked in that room for four hours. Okay, in any other circumstance, the marriage would be over faster than the Roadrunner evading a trap set by Wile E. Coyote. But the fact that this moment is barely referenced ever again is absolutely baffling. Yes, yes, time period and everything, but there has to be a damned line that women drew. Certainly divorce wasn’t completely alien back then.
Overall, Knightley was absolutely correct. Colette would be just as extraordinary today as she was back then. Considering how shafted women can get in this modern world, a story like this would be celebrated. I got my fair share of kicks from this and that’s probably the best way to describe this movie: it’s a kick. I can’t say it’s without its flaws, but I’m going to say that it’s worth a viewing. Maybe not exactly a must-see, but I think it’s you’re doing yourself a disservice by not seeing it.
My honest rating for COLETTE: 4/5
This week’s reviews:
Next week’s reviews: