Review: Colette (15)

Arnojya Shree reviews biographical drama Colette starring Keira Knightly

Arnojya Shree
10th June 2020
Image Credit: IMDB
With Victorian heteronormative vibes around it, Colette, directed by Wash Westmoreland is a biographical drama which starts off on a rather dull note. The same age-old story of Colette, a country gal being visited by Willy (Dominic West), a wealthy town old man who offers her a snowball toy as a gesture of his affection. With her family in hopes of getting her married in the absence of a dowry weaved in the offering, the wedding surprise becomes a rather pleasant moment. After all, Willy adores Colette in all her naïve, stubborn charm. 

One quickly realizes the insipid track the narrative is following and starts losing interest in its Eurocentric world bound in the false façade of social up-keeps and parties. Kiera Knightly has a certain way of presenting a young proud country girl, who is a rebel in a Victorian aristocratic world, but in Colette, she presents an even upsetting character.

Kiera Knightly in Colette
Image Credit: IMDB

Here is your witty girl, full of adventures and life giving away the talent of her pen to keep her husband’s ‘writer brand’ economic and his selfish self, happy. However, one gets quickly bored and starts to doze away in the sad tale of a girl living in her husband’s world quickly, no matter how apt the acting.

All this boredom until Colette coyly presents her interest in a woman and Willy’s approval of the affair. If it’s the same sex, it’s not a concern for the heterosexual pride, is it? Instead, like every man in the world, Willy is rather excited by the nature of this affair and asks Colette to write about her experiences. No matter the openness of the relationship and Willy’s efforts to remain truthful, the marriage is doomed from the start. 

The film attempts to shine a light upon the existence of women in their untethered, sensual and loud selves

The film, in its progress, reveals the true concern of its narrative; identification and independence. Colette is about a woman’s life beginning after her marriage; amidst the storm of affairs and within the grip of an authoritarian ‘headmaster’ who locks her up in the cage. She uses her inaudibility and absent name to represent the independent and spirited woman who suffers within the corsets of a patriarchal society. The film tackles infidelity, sexuality, love, gender roles and authorial rights, all in the light of feminism. 

Kiera Knightley is a delight to watch, personifying her Claudine who willed her way out of the headmaster’s grip, on her own terms. The film attempts to shine a light upon the existence of women in their untethered, sensual and loud selves, who demand to take up space within the heteronormative structures in the most glorious ways. Art, whether on paper or on stage, provides that space in a revolutionary way for it brings liberation not only to Colette but also to the Claudines trapped within a Victorian world. 

Rating: 3/5 stars

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