The film begins in the French countryside, when Colette (Keira Knightley) and Willy’s (Dominic West) sensual and sexual relationship has already started. We step forward into their married life, filled with surreal and opulent parties, and running a publishing house. But when Willy’s business starts to lose money, he needs another popular novel for the masses. He looks to his wife, who had previously told stories of her school days.
Colette’s Claudine novels, stricken with Willy’s title, were enormously popular and considered erotic for the time. The film, too, employs its own eroticism as both Willy and Colette engage in their extramarital affairs (once with the same woman). Colette, also, has a strong relationship with Mathilde de Morny (Denise Gough), who self-identifies as a man. It’s a strongly liberal group of characters within upper-class society, which, despite showing very little public scandal, is always exciting to watch.
Keira Knightley and Dominic West deliver fantastic performances
Director Wash Westmoreland, who co-wrote the script with Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Richard Glatzer, provides a serene, Madame Bovary-esque vision of rural France as well as the bizarre surrealism of the Parisian La Belle Époque era with some striking costumes and rich set design. Colette is fiercely written, with Knightley flaunting a gloriously rebellious spirit that grows with every scene – reaching scandalous proportions towards the end. Willy himself is a part-time sexist (respecting his wife one moment, degrading her the next) with some eloquently hilarious lines (‘Bad theatre is like dentistry’) and an exuberant, electrifying performance from Dominic West.
Colette does drag on in its third act, mumbling for too long before reaching the inevitable speech towards the end. It’s a story that could have been told in an hour and a half, but settles for 111 minutes. Westmoreland, Lenkiewicz, and Glatzer also straddle the line between plot and character too often, but the liveliness of the characters and the dazzling sensuality emanates from them is certain to jolt more than a few hearts in the audience.
|What||Colette film review|
09 Jan 19 – 09 Jan 20, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|