Colette is pushed by her husband to write novels under his name. Upon their success, she fights to make her talents known, challenging gender norms.
Based upon the life of a French writer, ‘Colette’ is an enjoyable biopic with strong performances from Dominic West, and in particular Keira Knightley as the titular character. The film takes place at the dawn of the 20th century and follows Colette (Knightley), a country girl who moves to Paris to marry the charismatic Willy (West), a critic and writer who no longer does much writing. He introduces Colette to the bohemian lifestyle of Paris, where they mingle with various celebrities of the time, but their extravagant lifestyle masks financial problems due to Willy’s lack of output. His idea to address this is to convince Colette to write novels and release them under his own name, leading to phenomenal success and acclaim for him as Colette’s talent goes unnoticed.
Colette and Willy are very different people who nonetheless have a real connection and I enjoyed watching their relationship play out. Willy is often selfish, chauvinistic and cruel, but he can be charismatic and fun to be around for Colette and watching the dynamic play out between Knightley and West is great to watch. I particularly enjoyed a sequence centering around a character played by Eleanor Tomlinson, which brings to life the couple’s open minded attitudes to sexuality whilst also shedding a light on the secrets within their marriage. As time moves on the business like elements of their relationship become more prominent than their love for one another and both performers are great at selling the anguish of how things play out.
Stories of men taking credit for the works of women are nothing new, either in fiction or based on true stories, and ‘Colette’ follows Björn Runge’s superb ‘The Wife’ from last year in treading similar ground, even if ‘Colette’ is more playful in its approach. The approach to telling Colette’s story is fairly conventional for a biopic and there are little surprises in the storytelling, but I did enjoy ‘Colette’ and it’s worthwhile seeing for Keira Knightley and Dominic West’s enjoyable performances.
Directed By: Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aiysha Hart, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Robert Pugh, Rebecca Root, Jake Graf and Julian Wadham