The critics’ circles and awards’ bodies are going crazy for The Favourite at the moment, with its strong cast of women exploring their voices and sexuality, but there’s another movie that oozes the same tones, so why is nobody talking about Colette? Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, known for the majority of her life as Colette, was a real life French author who had led an unusual life. Director Wash Westmoreland brings this unknown revolutionary to life on the big screen.
Keira Knightley stars as the enigmatic Colette in what might be one of her best roles to date. Though Knightley has featured in numerous period pieces, none have shown the fierceness we remember her having as Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean. Alongside her as the abusive and manipulative husband Willy is Dominic West. What makes Colette different to other films of a similar nature is that its male protagonist is unapologetic in his behaviour. It’s the unravelment of his behaviour towards Colette that stops Willy from being a redeemable character. Throughout the movie there are more and more suggestions that the lines between Colette and her literary creation have become blurred.
Colette is what the start of 2019 needs. The film is a powerful movie of its own accord, but the fact that it’s semi-biographical pushes just how much of a change Colette made to modern day womanhood. By giving women a relatable character without limitations was liberating. Colette is acclaimed because of her candidness, never trying to hide her sexuality and her passion, or sacrificing her wants. With her androgynous clothing and love for scandal, Colette was so much more than Willy but was held back by him for so long.
All of this is played out in the film to the backdrop of a fantastically haunting score composed by Thomas Adès. With so much of Colette’s life shown, the film never feels too rushed, nor is it ever dull. It’s very likely that this film will be overlooked during this awards’ season, when in fact, it stands with the same strong females and taboo subjects for the time. With other movies such as On the Basis of Sex to be released soon, these true-to-life women are paving the way once again.
Image: Paul Bird via Wikimedia Commons