January 9, 2019

Colette (2018)

Keira Knightly, Dominic West


Let start by saying I am 100% about this trend of highlighting women's stories, especially those whose work went uncredited for too long. Let me follow it up with my wish for those stories to be as accurate as possible.

It's not the story I have an issue with. It's the fact that it starred Keira Knightly. Now, I adore Keira. I've said it about a million different times in a million different forums. I will watch absolutely anything with her in it.

But she's not French. And honestly, if you're going to make a movie about one of the most prominent French novelists of all time, it seems more than a tad disrespectful to cast it with British actors. Like, how are you going to show Colette writing in French with a British-accented voiceover? 

The other thing: I love a good post-script after a movie has wrapped. But I found this particular post-script lacking. For all the work they spent building up her genius, they neglected to highlight the mind-boggling volume of work she actually put out over her lifetime. I understand the decision to focus the story only on a small portion of her life, but again, if you're going to do a post-script, at least do it justice.

That being said, there is a lot to like about the rest of the movie. It's a story about writers, which I will almost always love, even if I get frustrated at the portrayal that writers sit down and knock out a book in one sitting with minimal re-writes. (Who knows, maybe they used to back in the day.) But more than that, it's a story about female empowerment and the audacity of women pursuing their own happiness and worth. So naturally, my type of movie. 

It also leans into the LGBTQ aspect of Colette's life, showing her same sex relationships with the same unflinching sensuality that is usually reserved for heterosexual couples. It uses proper gender pronouns for "Missy," her long-term androgynous partner, and even delves into the politics of fashion at the turn of the century. Not to mention, the dresses. Oh God, the dresses (and hats). Let's just say I want the costume designer on this set to dress me in real life. 

So, the authenticity problems aside, it was still enjoyable to watch. But what do I know? I'm bound to love almost anything Keira Knightly is in.

Final word: Interesting story, but would have been more authentic with French actors.

P.S. If this movie doesn't get nominated for Best Costume Design at the Oscars, I'm going to flip a friggin table. I have never wanted to look like someone in a movie as much as I did in this one.


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