Verdict: Wash Westmoreland’s take on Colette is as bold as the writer herself.
The queen of costume dramas is back in yet another challenging role. Keira Knightley seems to be the go-to actress for most period films as she brings a sense of elegance and her own style to the character, unlike any other artist. From the Pirates of the Caribbean series to Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, A Dangerous Method, and Anna Karenina, Kiera Knightley has been known to break the rules of convention, giving us female characters who are bold and outshine the men in the film. The actress plays by her own rules and her roles are always ones to watch out for. In her latest film, she does no different in the shoes of a queer 20thcentury feminist writer, Colette.
What’s Colette About:
Small-town girl Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) marries writer and publisher Henry Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West), moving to the rich and spectacular city of Paris. Soon, she breaks out of her shell and begins to ghostwrite a semi-autobiographical novel titled Claudine for her husband, which is published under his name. The novel becomes a series is the toast of Paris. Men and women, the young and the old – they all love Claudine and cannot get enough of her. When Gabrielle, who now goes by Colette, insists on putting her name on the book, Henry declines. This angers Colette and she soon begins to fight him for creative ownership while finding her own place in a society that confines women.
The film only focusses on the part of Colette’s life with her first husband and her fight to win the creative ownership of her novels. Even without the other marriages and extra-marital affairs, Colette has a story that will raise many eyebrows. The trailer does not give away much of the protagonist’s queer side however it is enough to intrigue you. The film goes a step further and does not shy away from portraying the bolder side of the writer. From her relationships with women to her tryst with cross-dressing, Colette has been stripped bare not for pleasure but to add to the allure of the famous writer.
There’s no one better to play this celebrated role than Keira Knightley who delivers a raw and charismatic performance, giving us a realistic look at the woman far ahead of her times. Dominic West is also convincing as the ruthless and greedy husband and his role would have shone a lot more if Keira Knightley did not steal every single scene from him. Nevertheless, they make a formidable pair and we would definitely like to see more of this combination in the future.
What Could’ve Been Better:
The era! Colette might be the story of a woman who fought for equal rights in the early 1900s but it is still too progressive for India in the 21st century. It is safe to assume that the film will not make a full release here. You’d rather watch it on online channels than watch a version that’s tamed under the CBFC’s guidelines for the big screen.
Why You Should Watch:
Unabashedly bold, Colette is the perfect film for an era that is finally finding its voice to fight for women’s rights and equality. Watch it for the perfect setting, the taboo-busting story, and a smashing performance by Keira Knightley.