A woman returns to her Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her for her attraction to a female childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.
After marrying successful Parisian writer Henry Gauthier-Villars, known commonly as "Willy" (Dominic West), Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. Colette, in turn, pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After it's success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette's fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression.Written by
My thoughts regarding Collette are conflicted to say the least. On one hand, the film is a well-acted, complex love story. On the other hand, it's a well-acted mess that doesn't know what it wants to say. I'll begin by covering the one element of the film I know I liked: the leads. Keira Knightly and Dominic West are a great onscreen couple. They both have human flaws, but the script also acknowledges the true affection between them. In addition to their romance, they also share a relationship as business partners, adding another layer of complexity to their relationship. Through the progression of this love story, I didn't hate one or idolize the other, which I admired on a screenwriting level. However, about halfway through the film, the dialogue and tone start to side with Collette more and more even though the previous scenes never indicated the story held this ethical position. I understand that her name is the title of the picture, but there are still biographical films that don't necessarily support the central figure's motives or actions. In the first hour or so, the film seemed to simply display Colette's life without assigning the roles of a good or bad guy. The story focused and kept the central dramatic elements in check. After this, Colette starts, I don't want to say "falling apart", rather biting off more than it can chew. New characters are introduced quite literally out of nowhere even though they play very important roles. Colette also starts pursuing a career in theatre for reasons that are never really explained. And her husband Willy (Dominic West) is suddenly made out to as the film's antagonist. I would not mind this dramatic shift if more time was dedicated to the relationship. But like I said, there are so many separate events unfolding in the last hour or so that it's impossible to make sense of it all. In fact, the end credits reveal even more important events took place later in her life, that I quite frankly would have liked to see. I think the film makers struggled deciding what approach to use while telling this story. At first, the film seemed purely subjective as it took a neutral stance and simply showed the events one after another. Perhaps the writers later decided they weren't comfortable with this approach and took a one-sided angle for the rest of the project. I don't prefer one point of view over the other, but I wish Colette would have committed to a single method of cinematic storytelling. I've though about this film a lot and have decided to give it a small recommendation. It is a well acted, well-directed, and well-shot picture from beginning to end, but there is a distracting perspective shift that audiences should be aware of.
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