Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 1hr 52m
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, known by most as just “Colette,” had one of the most profoundly impactful literary careers of any woman in French history.
This Keira Knightley-led period piece does fair justice to the French proto-feminist author. Placed against Dominic West’s portrayal of her husband, a playboy and struggling writer Henry Gauthier-Villars (pen-named “Willy”) – encourages Colette to write. Resulting in her series of acclaimed Claudine novels, inspired by her childhood in the countryside. But they were infamously released under his name, with Henry happy to take both the credit and most of the financial reward.
Colette’s friends warn her along the way, murmuring “he’s made you one of his ghosts already?”. Colette eventually asks that they list themselves as co-writers, a notion firmly shut down by Henry. The manipulation worsens, with Colette being locked in a room until she writes enough to satisfy a quote set by him. Knightley and West have a tremendous chemistry: two very smart and worldly performances that suggest that Colette and Willy did enjoy something like a real love affair, and that Colette is never simply a victim, nor Willy simply an exploiter. Colette is still so extremely relevant, it’s high time this story was told on the big screen.