Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, Eleanor Tomlinson
A radiant Keira Knightley (Atonement, Anna Karenina) gives a career-best performance in this exhilarating, entertaining and timely film about the life of groundbreaking French novelist Colette, best known for Gigi. Directed by Wash Westmoreland (co-director of Still Alice) and produced by Christine Vachon (producer of Todd Haynes’ Carol), the film premiered at Sundance 2018 to rave reviews highlighting its relevance in the #MeToo era of female empowerment.
In Belle Époque France, Colette’s marriage to Henry ‘Willy’ Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West) thrusts her from a simple country life in Burgundy to the raucous creative demi-monde of Paris. Swiftly developing her literary talents, Colette’s first novels are nonetheless published under her Svengali-like husband’s name. Willy, an author in his own right, basks in the glory bestowed upon the wildly popular ‘Claudine’ stories, actually penned by his wife.
Theirs is a complex marriage, depicted with intelligence and subtlety, as are Colette’s relationships with women – including American-in-Paris Georgie Raoul-Duval (Eleanor Tomlinson) and cross-dressing noblewoman Mathilde de Morny, or Missy (Denise Gough), with whom Colette shared Paris’ first documented same-sex kiss on stage.
Whip-smart, precocious and unapologetic, not only is Colette shown to be uniquely a talented (later Nobel Prize -nominated) author, actor and journalist, but also a feminist trailblazer, fighting for the survival of her voice in a male-dominated world and shining a light for future generations of female artists.
A nuanced and inspiring film with a luminous central performance