Movie Review: Colette

By Ceara Kelly, Staff Writer
[Number 9; 2018]
Rating: 8.5/10

You always hear that you can’t have a period piece with people of color, strong female figures, and, god forbid, gay people. Maybe they weren’t invented yet in the eyes of some filmmakers. Movies today even struggle with this concept. Thankfully, for a film taking place over a hundred years ago, Colette is more modern and progressive than most films produced and set today all while being beautiful and historically accurate.

Read more: Movie Review: A Fantastic Woman

Colette follows the story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a Nobel Prize-winning author and deeply progressive and independent woman, as she grows into her identity as simply Colette. Her transformation from a young country girl to a world-renowned author is sparked by her first husband, a failing author himself, egging her into being his ghostwriter, going as far to lock her in rooms until she writes enough for his liking. The film follows as much her personal development as their controlling relationship and her sexuality developing through it.

Her life is accurately retold, adding a nice historical touch, but the sets and costume design make it even better. When something outshines Keira Knightley, you know it’s spectacular. The movie could be silent and completely pantomimed, as opposed to only a few theater scenes of Colette’s, and it would still be a wonderfully entertaining film. The costumes reveal so much of each character’s personality, and when a major costume change came about, the clothes were made front, center and beautiful. The sets are much more subtle in their design, yet equally spectacular. Rather than revealing characters, they show off the current state of Colette’s career, with changes as subtle as having electricity added layers of understanding just how much success Willy was robbing her of.

Scores are also so rarely mentioned as a key player in a movie, but the music in Colette is gorgeous. A single key can change the tone of the whole movie. The film feels like it was meant to be a silent film with the way the music and visuals tell the story just as well as the acting. This unique take could be read as Oscar bait, but it’s so genuinely well done that it doesn’t matter because whatever awards come, it deserves.

The diversity feels authentic both because it is historically accurate and the chemistry between actors was so real. You could feel Colette’s growing attraction to women and genuine love of Missy. Knightley managed to fade into the role, creating one of the best performances of her career. The rest of the cast is equally talented, their character’s struggles with identity and self-doubt felt like their own. Whether critical acclaim follows the release or not, the LGBT community will certainly find themselves in it.

Colette is a refreshing and diverse look into real history. It gives voice to so many people who were silenced and erased without focusing on the tragedy of losing them. Every aspect is perfect, down to the pens they wrote with. Not a detail is missed, allowing a fully immersive experience for a beautiful story.

Watch the trailer here:

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