TIFF18: Colette

When Matt and I were perusing the TIFF titles this year and came across Colette, we thought it must be this year’s Big Eyes (in which a husband, Christoph Waltz, takes credit for his brilliant wife’s, Amy Adams, paintings). We weren’t wrong, but we were giving Colette insufficient credit.

Colette (Keira Knightley) is a young country bumpkin who didn’t even know how to operate a snow-globe when she met her husband Willy (Dominic West), who dazzled her. He was a writer, worldly, enamoured with his own success and reputation. But the well is dry and they’re broke. To keep her husband happy and their household afloat, Colette sits down and writes a book about her own school girl experiences. Although Willy MV5BM2Y4MzdhMGUtNGE3My00NWZkLTkxMTEtMmU4ZThmNTZlZWQ3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjU3MTYyOTY@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1399,1000_AL_criticizes it for being too feminine and “full of adjectives” he signs his name to it and sends it off to be published. Of course it gets gobbled right up. Does Willy eat crow? He does not. He celebrates “his” success without a trace of irony and then gets mad at his wife for “implying” that she wrote it. Which, again, she did. This book does worlds better than any of his ever did so he’s eager to keep the gravy train going (imagine an actual gravy train! what a weird expression, especially since the carafe gravy is traditionally served in is called a boat). Anyway. He can’t help but lock her in a room until she produces another best-seller. It’s only logical! And she does. And when, oodles of success later, it begins to chafe and she suggests getting at least partial credit, her name alongside his, he bucks. Preposterous! Women writers don’t sell, he reminds her.

Living under those circumstances, it is perhaps not surprising that she explores her options, by which I mean, sleeps with women. She is emboldened, solely by the women in her life, to assert herself. And though the laws and the norms of the day prevent her from claiming all that she may, they also inspire her to finally break free from the leash that kept her bound to a husband who viewed her as a meal ticket, their marriage as a business transaction. Even a long leash chafes.

Keira Knightley has earned herself the crown for period films long hence, but finally she has found one that is worthy of her – or, better stated, a film that can maximize her limited gifts has found her. She sparkles here, breaking outside her box to march up a hill of empowerment. Colette is familiar but not generic. It relishes the vibrancy of the period, but it also embraces its grittiness. The messaging here is anything but subtle but it doesn’t take a gentle hand to sit back and hear her roar.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “TIFF18: Colette

  1. Lorna Cunningham-Rushton

    I feel like such an uninformed movie-lover since I thought this was a movie about Colette the woman who taught us all how to dress. I am always glad to read your reviews and religiously share them with the husband or brother I want to go to the movie with me, so this is going off to both those persons in the hope I won’t have to go alone….but I’ll be going. Thanks again for your sharp and thoughtful reviews. I seldom miss one.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. raistlin0903

    It’s nice to hear that Keira really shines in this one. You don’t see her very often these days (as opposed to the past where you saw her in an incredible amount of movies). Definitely intrigued to see this 😊

    Like

    Reply
  3. fragglerocking

    “a film that can maximize her limited gifts has found her” made me laugh, I’ve long wondered what is all the fuss about? regarding Ms.Knightly, but am glad she’s found her niche.

    Like

    Reply
  4. Christopher

    I’ve read some of Collette’s work but never realized she had such an interesting life story. She was friends with Jean Cocteau and he really admired her, but I always assumed it was just because of her intelligence and talent. He was born into wealth, which adds an interesting layer to their relationship.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      Both her intelligence and talent were in hiding for so much of her life. I cannot imagine the sense of freedom in breaking free of that.

      Like

      Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, I’m iffy on Keira but I liked her in this. The film is likeable. The arc of her gathering her strength and becoming who she is is really nice to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s