The lives of two lovelorn spouses from separate marriages, a registered sex offender, and a disgraced ex-police officer intersect as they struggle to resist their vulnerabilities and temptations in suburban Massachusetts.
The infamous writer, the Marquis de Sade of 18th Century France, is imprisoned at Charenton Insane Asylum for unmentionable activities. He manages to befriend the young Abbé de Coulmier, who runs the asylum, along with a beautiful laundress named Madeline. Things go terribly wrong when the Abbe finds out that the Marquis' books are being secretly published. The emperor Napoleon contemplates sending Dr. Royer-Collard to oversee the asylum, a man famed for his torturous punishments. It could mean the end of Charenton and possibly the Marquis himself. Written by
Emily H and Janette W
Quills is a movie about the man The Marquis De Sade. If you are not familiar with him watching the movie would be advisable even though your own research might be better. The film follows him played amazingly by Geoffrey Rush in a insane asylum. Michael Caine who is an expert at "curing" people of their madness wishes to take a new approach at solving the mental in-capacities of the inmates of the Charenton. This of course it that of more brutal methods than that of the Abbe played by Joaquin Phoenix. What does seem of the least cruel of the punishments in this movie turns out to be the most costly, Sade is no longer allowed to write. This had dramatic affects on him and his state of mind.
In the movie Geoffrey Rush simply shines. Here he proves once again how he has undoubtedly one of the most under appreciated actors around today. His performance is unique in that he plays a man considered perverse yet brilliant, a man of many self contradictions. As the film wears on Geoffrey Rush does not take the easy way out in making his performance extraordinary flashy, in fact it remains quite subtle. His subtly is what truly makes his performance great with the many underlying tones he carries. Michael Caine whenever in a film carries this great presence with him and continues to do so here. He is obviously a man of many secrets and I had wished he was given more screen time to study his more of his character motivations and actions. Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix play well in this movie but have had better performances which is a true testament to their abilities.
The writing of the movie is very good in that the movie remains interesting throughout. What fails though is the directing. It was solid but refused took unnecessary turns in the film. The romantic tension between Winslet and Phoenix was pushed upon the story a bit too hard and at times dragged away from what was a compelling enough of a theme: freedom of expression.
Freedom of expression is something that we all have to have in our lives. If we do not have it we will go crazy like many of the inmates of the Charenton. Our ideas is what keeps us going and when that right is taken away from us our problem do not disappear they erupt. For example some people express their ideas through writing such as the Sade in this film. If that is taken away not only do we lose our sanity but along with it our very humanity. We can no longer differentiate between fantasy and reality as Geoffrey Rush so perfectly illustrates. That is what this film showed but unfortunately did not show enough of. If it had stayed more consistent with this theme and picked it apart in other aspects it would have reached at the height of greatness. Yet it did not and is very good recommendable film but not what it could have been.
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