Colette, writer and
A Wash Westmoreland movie starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West
Presented as a World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and selected at the Toronto International Film Festival before being presented at the Closing Gala of the Quebec City Film Festival, the feature film Colette features Keira Knightley and Dominic West.
Colette was a pioneer of women’s rights, nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature six years before her death in 1954.
1893, the Belle Epoque. Despite their fourteen-year gap, Gabrielle Sidonie Colette, a rebellious girl, marries Willy, a writer as egocentric as he is a seducer. Through her relationships, she discovers the Parisian artistic milieu that stimulates her own creativity. Knowing how to spot talent better than anyone, Willy invites Colette to write – provided he signs her novels. Following the triumph of the Claudine series, he is not long in becoming famous. Yet, while Willy’s infidelities weigh on the couple, Colette suffers more and more from not being recognized for her work.
The more popular the books become, the more the couple argues about acknowledging Colette’s name as the author. They finally agree on the name “Willy and Colette Willy”, and publishers will not remove the name Willy from the series until after his death in 1931. But Colette sees her talent recognized during her lifetime and she becomes famous as a solo author from the moment the couple separates. The writer became the first woman president of the prestigious Parisian literary society, the Académie Goncourt.
‘The writer became the first woman president of the prestigious Parisian literary society, the Académie Goncourt.’
Colette is the latest film by Wash Westmoreland, co-director of Echo Park L.A., Jury Grand Prize and Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, and Still Alice, which earned Julianne Moore the Academy Award for Best Actress. To embody the famous French novelist, the filmmaker appealed to Keira Knightley, nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes for The Imitation Game and Pride and Prejudice. Dominic West, known to the general public for his role on the television series The Wire, plays Willy, his first husband.
Colette was a pioneer of women’s rights, nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature six years before her death in 1954. According to a screenplay he wrote with his ex-husband Richard Glatzer and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, director Wash Westmoreland tells the story of Colette’s emancipation, a theme that sounds right and true in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp. This is the firebrand Colette that Knightley plays with every fibre of her being.
“The idea of having your voice silenced or your voice taken away from you, it’s one most women identify with and there’s definitely a gender conversation with this as well, the idea of what is masculine, and what is feminine; others described her as androgynous,” Knightley says. Moreover, to bring authenticity to the LGBT themes of the film, Westmoreland has entrusted different roles to transgender actors and extras.
In addition to Westmoreland’s excellent directing, what really contributes to Colette’s beauty is Giles Nuttgens‘ (Star Wars: Episode III) camera that magically transforms Budapest into 1906 Paris, as well as the evocative soundtrack of Thomas Ages and the incredible wealth of authentic costumes that take your breath away.
Colette is presented in English original version, in English original version with French subtitles and in French dubbed version. 111 minutes.
Production companies: Killer Films, Number 9 Films, Bold Films
Cast: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, Eleanor Tomlinson, Robert Pugh, Ray Panthaki, Shannon Tarbet
Director: Wash Westmoreland
Screenwriters: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Producers: Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon, Michael Litvak, Gary Michael Walters
Executive producers: Svetlana Metkina, Norman Merry, Mary Burke
Director of photography: Giles Nuttgens
Production designer: Michael Carlin
Costume designer: Andrea Flesch
Editor: Lucia Zucchetti
Composer: Thomas Ades
Images: Bleecker Street and Creative Commons