WORTH A LOOK?: ***
RUN TIME?: 111 minutes
WHEN?: Released in the UK 9/1/19
Colette might not be a name familiar to you but Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was described shortly before her death in 1954 as ‘the greatest living French writer of fiction’.
- Read on for reasons including why this film bears thematic similarities to Glenn Close’s The Wife
Director Wash Westmoreland co-wrote the screenplay of this film with Richard Glatzer and it focuses on Colette’s arrival in Paris at the end of the 19th century and her marriage to a man known only as Willy who is an author who takes credit for her work.
It’s a story which will be familiar to viewers of Glenn Close’s latest tilt at an Oscar for The Wife though the reason we’re actually here is for the theatrical strength of the supporting cast – and we do not go home disappointed.
Fiona Shaw (TV’s Killing Eve and most recently on stage in Bull In A China Shop) plays Colette’s mother Sido whose unconventionality and ahead-of-its-time influence on our titular heroine is perhaps worthy of closer examination in a film of its own.
Denise Gough (Angels In America at the National and People, Places And Things, both also New York/Broadway) plays the cross-dressing Marquise de Belbeuf who encourages Colette to be herself when her marriage is questioned.
Al Weaver (Pinter At The Pinter) plays 1 of Colette’s contemporaries and he has impressed us recently on TV in Mike Bartlett’s Press and in the aforementioned Pinter season at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
We weren’t disappointed either by Knightley in the lead role or Dominic West (currently leading BBC1’s Sunday night tune-free Les Miserables) who perhaps has the more difficult role as her husband who both loves and cheats on her, while taking the plaudits for her work. It’s a role which requires much charm to convince and West has it in spades.
Inevitably films about writers stand or fall on the language used and that’s where we felt this film was at its most lacking. Colette dazzles Willy with: ‘I can read you like the top line of an optician’s chart’ at 1 point.
Fortunately the appeal of the supporting cast and the timeliness of the story are not quite so blurred.