A Story that Empowers Women for Generations.
Colette gives women a voice in a man’s world.
This timely film showcases the full life of French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. From the humble village of Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, Colette (Kiera Knightly) morphs from a shy country girl into a woman of the world in 111 minutes flat. This biographical picture does the same thing for society today as what Colette did for her time. “Colette” empowers.
In this dissident marriage, opposites attract. Kiera Knightley and Dominic West assume the two characters dramatically different personalities. They compel viewers to sit back a little further, clench their hands a little tighter, and furl their eyebrows a bit higher as they wait to see what the unpredictable couple will do next. “Colette’s” star actors will undoubtedly transport one into the lives of Willy and Colette from the opening scene until the last credit rolls.
Beginning in the year of 1892, director Wash Westmoreland uses scene to develop the complex character of Colette. The film begins as young Colette (Knightly) is just waking up, the morning sun spilling into her childhood home in a département of France just outside of Paris. Though the actors speak in English, Colette writes in French, a subtle yet essential detail that frames the burgeoning world of Colette on screen.
In school-girl braids and a dated dress Colette appears to be the very picture of innocence -- the 19 year-old is anything but. Henry Gauthier-Villars, better known as Willy (Dominic West), does everything a respectable suitor in the 1900’s should do while courting a lady, except bed her in a barn tucked into a fold of the France’s countryside.
A year later, the two are wed and Colette is inducted into Willy’s whirlwind world of ghostwriters, high society, and business at a party. Amidst the dazzling jewels and cigar smoke, Colette emerges on the scene of Parisian society in a modest dress and a naked face. The women judge her, the men ignore her, and her groom discards her for every other woman in the room. When marrying the young entrepreneur, Colette does not realize until standing alone in a crowded room among social lights and businessmen that she was marrying all of society along with him.
Spending the bulk of his income on booze and women instead of rent, Willy (West) runs out of writers, resources and is finally forced to turn to the only person he has left, his wife.
“I take all the risk and there’s still no money! We need more output…” Willy worries, his money running dry and his ghostwriters scarce. With that, a writer was born.
Colette begins writing a series of books based loosely off her life. They were called the “Claudine” stories: Claudine at School, Claudine in Paris, Claudine Married, and Claudine and Annie. Colette’s words and Willy’s books swiftly became the “toast of Paris.”
From the first establishing shots the viewer is hooked.
Knightley shines in this period piece as Colette. Bringing emphatic facial expression and a noble demeanor to her character, Knightley brings Colette to life! Throughout the duration of the film, Knightley plucks at the heartstrings of every audience member in the movie auditorium. She allows people to become Colette, to feel her feelings and fear her fears. Knightley’s demands empathy for this untraditional, historic heroine.
The entangled lives of Colette and Willy are brought to life in Westmoreland’s France. Teleporting theatergoers back to avant-garde Paris, traversing the city’s social circles, mingling with eccentric artists and famed intellectuals together and apart, this twentieth century couple is anything but normal. Coming to terms with her husband’s incurable infidelity, Colette resolves to make marriage suit her.
Giving voice to the unsung stories of history, Colette does something revolutionary -- she speaks up.
The movie “Colette” showcases one young woman’s trials and triumphs on the road to self-discovery that mold her into the tour de force of the woman that she becomes. Bringing a modern twist to an age-old tale, Westmoreland directs “Colette” in a way that pulls at the heartstrings of society today, as women from all walks of life fight for their stories to be told.
“Colette” comes at a time in history when women are fighting to make their experiences known. Just over 100 years earlier, young Colette did the same. Colette empowers, connects, and embodies a feminism that is refreshing to the eyes and ears. Wrestling with the patriarchal customs of that time, Colette gives women of all ages the courage to stand up for themselves.