In an era where a woman’s voice is finally being heard, Wash Westmoreland‘s luscious and stimulating “Colette” presents itself as a timely piece of cinema featuring Keira Knightley‘s best performance since “Pride and Prejudice” and a career-best turn from Dominic West. With gorgeous sets and costumes in tow, “Colette” is a pleasant though familiar work of cinema that makes the most of its moments.
“Colette,” tells the story of a woman who is pushed by her husband to write novels under his name. Upon their success, Colette begins to fight to make her talents known, while challenging the gender norms of the time.
It has become a standard practice to see the Oscar-nominated Keira Knightley in period-era works as demonstrated in “A Dangerous Method,” “The Duchess,” and “Anna Karenina.” What she demonstrates under the direction of Westmoreland, is an impeccable attention to the vulnerabilities of a woman. She finds herself lost in the moments that call for a big reaction yet Knightley finesses the words from the script, driving home the film’s central message of equality and finding your voice. Knightley’s best work in years.
Dominic West, who has found success on television in Showtime’s “The Affair,” has finally got his hands on a role he can sink his teeth into. As the charismatic and conniving Willy, West finds the appeal and spell that Willy bestowed upon all that he encountered. West even gets the viewer to want more of him, also when he’s doing something diabolical or sinister. It’s a remarkable turn.
The film’s success is significantly aided by Thomas Adès‘ memorable music and Giles Nuttgens‘ beautiful camera work. The standout aspects are in the vibrant production designs of Michael Carlin and the enticing and hypnotic clothes of Andrea Flesch, two elements that will surely be in the hunt for Oscar consideration.
While the story’s model is something, we’ve seen time and time again, “Colette” has a grace you don’t expect to witness unfold. The script by Westmoreland, the late Richard Glatzer (for which the film is dedicated), and Rebecca D. Lenkiewicz operates on a typical trajectory for which we see most movies of this nature to inherit. Perhaps seeing some more chances taken with its execution could have made it feel more original.
“Colette” finds its way, even when the runtime doesn’t exactly call for it. Keira Knightley and Dominic West’s brilliant performances will inevitably accompany you through the journey, making fabulous co-pilots for an otherwise, thoroughly enjoyable ride.
“Colette” is distributed by Bleecker Street and is currently in limited release.