Talk about empowering … Sundance hit “Colette” tells the story of a woman overcoming a nightmare of a marriage and societal constraints on love to make her voice heard as one of France’s most influential novelists.
We meet Gabrielle (Keira Knightley) as a naïve young woman in a small French village. She’s wooed by literary entrepreneur Willy (Dominic West), and soon the two are married. Now living together in turn-of-the-century Paris, the couple faces financial constraints to suit Willy’s extravagant life, and, at Willy’s prompt, Gabrielle becomes an author for him. At first rejecting Gabrielle’s work as something that won’t sell, Willy later helps her refine her stories and launches the Claudine book series under his name. As the series gains popularity, the couple’s marriage unravels amid adultery (on both sides of the relationship) and abuse (at one point, Willy locks his wife in a room to complete a book). As the film goes on, Gabrielle begins to go by Colette, gaining her confidence to find a new person to love and claim her story.
Directed by Wash Westmoreland, “Colette” is charming, witty and sexy, and Knightley shows her range in one of her best performances. The setting changes from serene, picturesque French countryside to the glitz and glam of Paris—bedazzled turtles, shows at Moulin Rouge, dancing on tables—as the film takes you on a turbulent ride of emotions, stories, music and complete silence.
It’s no wonder the film landed the first major deal of the fest.
The only thing that could have made it better: Hiring French actors to bring some authenticity. But don’t let the British accents turn you off; after you see the next screening, you’ll want the French author’s collected works.