Many have heard the phrase "Well-Behaved women rarely make history" and that quote could not hold more true for Keira Knightley in her latest film Colette. The movie, which is based on a true story, tells the life of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette a young French girl who marries well-known Parisian writer Willy (Dominic West). Over time Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite a series of novels for him which ultimately become the most successful books of his career. it is all smooth sailing until Colette starts to struggle to find her voice in all of their newfound success and even starts fighting for her own creative ownership of the novels, all while exploring her own identity, sexuality, and that of women and gender roles in the early 1900's.
Keira Knightley does a fantastic job in the film. She conveys both the wide-eyed country girl who is thrust into this posh city life and also the force to be reckoned with a woman who does not care about the opinions of others and demands to be seen for who she is. It is a pretty badass dynamic, I have to say. Dominic West does a great job in the role of her husband Willy. At the beginning of the film he is able to play Colette like a fiddle and basically mold her into the woman he thinks she should be and she, for the most part, bows down to his whims. His attitude towards other people is often maddening as he always acts like his he the most important person in the room. These two characters play off each other well especially as the movie progresses and we see Colette really come into her own. The revolving cast of characters that share a bed with these two is entertaining as well. On one hand, it makes Colette and stronger more confident person and for Willy, it just keeps him in his close-minded deplorable ways.
While the message of being a strong independent woman who doesn't need any man is strong throughout the fil the thing that really hurts the movie is the length of it. The film clocks in at almost two hours and you will feel most of it. There are just several parts of this film that could have been edited down to keep the story flowing smoothly. Instead, we are left with a film that had me checking my watch as we neared the end. It was just really drawn out and while I did find her life incredibly interesting it could have told a smoother story to keep audiences engaged. Outside of that I really enjoyed this film. Colette is an inspiring character that was well ahead of her time. Her tenacity and drive to make her voice heard and to be able to openly be who she wanted to be and be seen as. She was not afraid to carry on with a relationship with a woman and to have her sexuality on display in the various plays and shows she took part in. She owned it like a boss and in a time where women were seen as less than their husbands she defied society and paved the way for females writers and woman in entertainment.
Overall this was a refreshing film to see. We scored it with a solid B. We would have gone with an A if the film was a little bit shorter and the flow of the film went a little bit more smoothly, but the overall message and character of Colette make this a worthwhile feature to see. Also, if you are a fan of the play Gigi, just know that Colette is the one who wrote the novel that inspired the play. So that is pretty awesome.
Check out Colette opening in Houston on September 28th.