Colette – Review

Keira Knightley has been a star of the screen since her turn in Bend it Like Beckham back in 2002. The British actress is mostly associated with period dramas, such as Pride and Prejudice and her work in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The news that Miss Knightley is in another period drama may seem like standard film news, yet with Colette, audiences are in-store for something different.

Inspired by the life of French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, the film has the usual period staples, with its wardrobe, carriages and set pieces. Yet the film explores the politics of the time and sexual liberation in turn of the Century Paris. Colette is a period drama with spice; fuelled by strong performances by Knightley and co-star Dominic West.

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When young Sidonie (Knightly), marries career writer Henry Gauthier-Villars (West), she hopes of a simple life and marriage. However, their relationship is different to what she had expected and eventually she finds herself writing of her experiences. The ‘Claudine’ stories are published under Henry’s name and prove an instant success. As the created character of Claudine gains in popularity, the titular and true writer explores the bounds of her desires while trying to maintain control over her work.

Inspired by the life of French novelist Colette, the film is directed by Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice,) who also co-wrote the screenplay with Richard Glatzer. Like many female writers of the time, her works were published under a male name (in this case her husband’s, not a pseudonym) due to sexist attitudes. Colette is today celebrated as France’s most successful female writer.

The story opens by introducing us to the first encounter between Colette and Henry, before they are quickly married and living in Paris. Instead of a liberal and vibrant society, Colette is plunged into a pretentious and snobby environment. Her frustrations lead her to writing, where the character begins to find herself. What really makes Colette is the dynamics between its characters. Husband and wife, the pair and their lovers. Colette as a character is constantly told what she should or must do by those around her and more often her own husband. Although she is often complicit it is watching her break away from conformity that attracts the audience to her.

As well as the growing desires of same relationships the film also explores themes of gender non-conformity, polyamory and marriage. The film starts off a little slow but as Colette begins to push the boundaries in her marriage and work, the film picks up pace. Tonally the film is also inconsistent at times, but mid-way finds it feet solidly.

The sight of Keira Knightly in period clothing may be familiar but here the actress sheds her Jane Austin pouting heroine for a much more daring portrayal. Knightly is the driving force of the film, able to portray the naïve country girl Henry marries as well as the outspoken author she grows into.

Dominic West is also on great form as Colette philandering husband Henry. His arrogance and morality make him a horrific character, but West gives him enough charisma to understand Colette’s draw to him. A realistic interpretation of how male privilege corrupts.

Not your run-of-the mill-period piece. The film offers a scathing look at the roles of men, women and marriage. See for its politics, recreated period costumes as well as West and in particular Knightly’s performances.

Colette is out in cinemas now. 

EE BAFTA Film Award 2019 – Nominations

It’s that time of the year again where we celebrate the best in the film industry! Award season is, indeed, upon us as we  rejoice in a whole year of absolutely spectacular movies.

The BAFTAs have well and truly kicked off. And no surprise to anyone but Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite seems to be, well, The Favourite with most nominations this year in pretty much EVERYTHING.

Despite kicking off the nominations with  talk about “championing female voices,” it is disappointing to see that not one female director was nominated for a BAFTA. There are plenty to throw into the mix that have created some of the most critical acclaimed and impeccable pieces of cinema this year: Lynne Ramsay, Chloe Zhao, Desiree Akhavan, Marielle Heller, and more!  I mean Green Book and Vice over movies such as You Were Never Really Here and The Rider? I mean…come on, film indstury, we can do so much better than this. We all talk about diversyfing the field,  but when it comes to actually showing up and nominating, we seem to be lacking. We can do better.

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Regardless, BAFTA has a good mix of directors, writers, and films nominated. Some highlights for us include Stan & Ollie and You Were Never Really Here scooping up Best British Film, Steve Coogan scooping a Best Leading Actor BAFTA. Ray & Liz director Richard Bilingham scooped up a nomination for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, Or Producer. We’re also excited that Cold War has some great nominations such as Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. There’s also all the love for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for Best Animation and it’s trajectory for scooping up an Oscar is exciting.

Also fucking finally on Viola Davis getting some goddamn respect for her performance in Widows.

There’s also some great nods to First Man, a movie criminally underrepresented at awards season this year though Justin Hurwitz annoyingly misses out on an Original Music nod despite crafting the past year’s best score. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs also squeezed in a nomination for Best Costume Design.

We’re excited for the list of nominations and can’t wait to see what gets

The full list of nominees can be found at BAFTA.
EE BAFTA Film Awards are announced 10th February.