Sundance Movie Review: Colette

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“Colette” proves to be a crucial film to our modern society, even though it takes place in the late 19th century. It debuted this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT.

Keira Knightley plays the titular role of Colette, a young and beautiful French woman. She marries Willy (Dominic West), an extremely popular socialite and author in Paris. Their marriage is shocking to the public eye, since Colette is simply an unknown country girl. Willy is fascinated with the long-haired, young and sharp Colette. He even gives up his inheritance to marry her.

Part of Willy’s popularity includes his commentaries and writings. The trouble is, these are usually ghost-written by his friends. Willy begins looking to his wife to start writing for him. They discover that she has a true gift for the written word and creates the most popular book series in France, starring a character named Claudine.

Their success finds them extravagance, fame and fortune. It proves the saying that behind every great man is an even better woman. Colette finds dismay in this lifestyle. She is forced to write and publish under Willy’s name. This causes her marriage to crumble, but it wasn’t extremely solid in the first place.

Knightley plays a feisty, female-forward Colette. Her performance introduces the fresh idea of feminism in 19th century Europe, which we don’t see a lot of. With the current stories of female empowerment, sexual harassment, abolition and equal pay, “Colette is more than relevant. No one does feminism better than Knightley.

The film also retains LGBTQ themes with Colette exploring her sexuality throughout.

“Colette” is Wash Westmoreland’s directorial debut, but it doesn’t show. The combination of the cinematography, casting, editing and score proves to be award-worthy.

Dominic West’s performance as Willy is entertaining and significant in more ways than one. He adds layers to the character that differs the performance from that of most male leads. Willy has a likability to himself. He’s witty, charming and cheeky. Along with this comes the dark side of his infidelity and dishonesty. It causes a conundrum for the audience. We have a handsome, comical man who is using his wife for his personal gain. You will find yourself switching your stance on him throughout the film.

Colette” is more than impressive for a directorial debut and independent film. It holds its own in every aspect. There is originality, color and modernism, basically everything you are looking for in a film.

The rights to the film were acquired at the festival this weekend and will be out in theaters later this year.