Critic Consensus: Formally familiar but a brilliant match for its lead, Colette is a thoroughly entertaining biopic and an overdue testament to Keira Knightley's underrated gifts.
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as Georgie Raoul-Duval
as Mme. De Caillavet
as Count Muffat
as Lotte Kincelar
as Opera Singer
as Jeanne De Caillavet
as Gaston De Caillevet
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Critic Reviews for Colette
The movie's treatment of her same-sex affairs may be as tasteful as the set design, but the film is an absorbing introduction to a trailblazing artist.
Keira Knightley is magnetic in a Paris-set period drama with a dollop of queer feminist energy.
In the wrong films Knightley is a pretty girl with a small bag of tricks. In the right ones she's formidable. Crucially here, she also cuts it as a wordsmith.
Knightley's Colette is fine too. But nothing more. The role required a maelstrom of tortured angst and rousing defiance to support the weight of the film. It never arrived.
Knightley excels in the title role but, as drama, this biopic still feels a little undercharged.
Audience Reviews for Colette
Keira Knightley stars is the biopic Colette, a mediocre period drama about one of France's most influential female writers. The film follows Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a young country girl, as she marries popular writer Henry "Willy" Gauthier-Villars, who introduces her to the libertine lifestyle and convinces her to ghostwrite for him, but eventually she grows tired of being in the shadows and attempt to chart her own path as a stage performer. Knightley, as usual, gives a strong performance, as does Dominic West. However, the script isn't very good, particularly at developing the characters. In fact, the film seems more interested in pushing a political message about female empowerment and sexual liberation than exploring Colette's relationship with Willy or her artistic passion (which seemingly comes out of nowhere). More agenda driven than character driven, Colette fails to get at the heart of who Colette really was or her accomplishments.
For a typically handsome period drama about a woman trying to be heard in ungrateful times, it is a pleasure to see how she evolves from reluctant to accept a resigned existence in the shadow of a man to later realizing that she can decide her own life and break free.
"I can read you like the top line of an optometrist's chart." Colette is a mixed bag of being both your standard period drama (gorgeous costumes and production design) while telling a story that feels all the more timely in regards to today's conversations (bisexuality, transgender individuals, etc.). If nothing else, Colette shows this conversation about gender and gender fluidity has been ongoing for much longer than some might care to admit. What is unfortunate about Wash "Still Alice" Westmoreland's adaptation of these true events is a lack of any real narrative drive which, oddly enough, is Colette's husband's first critique of her first "Claudine" novel. That said, it's not hard to appreciate that Westmoreland allows his stars in Keira Knightley and Dominic West (both solid to great in certain moments) to define their relationship as one of genuine love and affection before sending it off the rails as the film details some rather weird and ultimately complex interpersonal dynamics between the two of them. It's all rather fascinating in terms of being the topic of a dinner conversation after the fact, but in the moment it never engages to the degree one is truly emotionally invested in any aspect of Colette's life as presented. Westmoreland, Richard Glatzer, and Rebecca Lenkiewicz's screenplay does feature some rather excellent dialogue and the glaze of an interesting commentary on the societal expectations of men at the turn of the century and the glaring differences between what was thought of as a gentleman and what is actually a gentle man permeates throughout, but is never fully fleshed out. In an early scene Knightley's Colette tells her mother (played by Mrs. Dursley herself, Fiona Shaw) that marriage and her life up until that point has been "nothing like she imagined" which comes to be rather ironic given Colette went on to turn every expectation she likely had for her life on its head. It's only too bad the film as a whole couldn't accomplish this as well. Turn of the century Paris was crazy though, y'all.
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