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Colette

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Wash Westmorland had turned the first of many wild years of notorious French writer Colette (Sidonie-Gabrielle Claudine Colette, 1873-1954) into a lively and opulent biopic. In the beginning Colette (Keira Knightly) is still a teenager and has fallen for a Parisian bohemian, the bearded writer Henry Gauthier-Villars. Henry marries her, takes her to Paris, and has her join his “factory,“ a writing workshop where nameless writers write texts that Henry then publishes under the pseudonym Willy. Willy also publishes Colette‘s first book, “Claudine à l’école,“ more ouf of embarrassment than enthusiasm according to the film. It becomes a phenomenal success. Other books follow and Claudine becomes a label. There are Claudine soaps, a Claudine play, and a sexy Claudine look – a revolutionary short haircut in combination with a modest school girl dress which Claudine fans audition with while getting autographs from Willy. No one knows about Colette‘s contribution to the books, and when she demands to be named the co-author, Willy refuses.

COLETTE entirely focuses on Colette‘s time with Willy, which the film sets up as a milestone on Colette‘s path towards literary and sexual emancipation. Willy is both the blocker and the enabler: it‘s Willy that forces her to write and encourages her to have her first lesbian relationship. Colette discovers the wonderfully decadent Fin de Siècle world of literature, theater, and cabaret, away from the world of mundane salons; a world of fluid sexuality and gender borders which she will later become the queen of. Later on, when she sets out on her own path, writes her own books, and finds her own lovers.

Toni Ohms

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Großbritannien 2018, 111 min
Language: English
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Wash Westmoreland
Author: Wash Westmoreland, Richard Glatzer, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
DOP: Giles Nuttgens
Montage: Lucia Zucchetti
Music: Thomas Adès
Distributor: DCM
Cast: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Fiona Shaw, Eleanor Tomlinson
FSK: 6
Release: 03.01.2019

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