Film Festival Movie Review

Film Review: COLETTE: An Easy Watch with the Always Terrific Knightley [LFF 2018]

Keira Knightley Colette

LFF 2018 Colette Review

Colette (2018) Film Review from the 62nd Annual London Film Festival, a movie directed by Wash Westmoreland, starring Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aiysha Hart, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Robert Pugh, Rebecca Root and Julian Wadham.

There is a nice analogy between actress and character in Colette. Much like her protagonist, Keira Knightley is going for the roles and making the choices, which no one else does. Wash Westmoreland’s award-baiting film doesn’t really get any deeper than that. The story touches on many other popular ideas but that doesn’t add to the drama. At 111 minutes, the film drags here and there, particularly because of its consistently light tone, predictable story and obvious lack of stakes. When it works and it does so quite frequently, it is refreshingly funny and entertaining.

If you have watched the trailers, you pretty much know the entire plot. It is the true story of a bright, fearless, adventurous girl, played by Knightley. She marries a struggling writer and through her talent, she ends up ghostwriting for him. The power and influence of her work eventually inspires her to stand up for what’s rightfully hers and claim her due credit. Knightley is excellent, as always. Dominic West also does a fine job just like the entire supporting cast.

Knightley is the Queen of Historical Dramas

The veteran actress has carried a huge number of period pieces on her shoulders – maybe more so than any other performer of her caliber. Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, Silk and Anna Karenina are just some of her past achievements. They have proved that her gorgeous face, innocent expressive eyes and pure charm are highly effective next to lavish sets and fancy costumes.

And yet, when she needs to turn up the heat, she does so with infectious zeal. She hits all the marks here. We see the instant heartbreak when she is told she is not good enough. Her face adopts a predator-like sharpness when she gets inspired and sits down to write another masterpiece. This film is formulaic at best. It wasn’t a surprise to recognize the familiar speech scene, in which the star of the film goes for the Oscar. That being said, there is no denying that Knightley ferociously owned the moment. This is an actress of spectacular range, who chooses her projects intelligently and again lives up to the task

A Clever Depiction of a Writer’s Mad Lifestyle

At certain point, when the second act of the film kicks in, you will realize that it won’t be emotionally exhausting in the slightest. Colette first and foremost entertains. The dialogue between Knightley and West (who plays her husband) is a lot of fun. It plays off the morality and intelligence of the talented lady and the exact opposite qualities attached to the male character.

A fascinating side of these two creators that the film reveals is their intriguing openness. These people are unfaithful to each other during the day and fall asleep in their official partner’s arms at night. This crazy situation culminates in an absolutely hilarious scene, which made the audience lose it. In it, two writers are discussing the fates of the characters in their literally work but in fact they are talking about themselves.

It’s a ravishing world of badly kept secrets that maybe only writers can fully savor. Writing does wonders to a creative person in pain. Not only does he or she forgets that it hurts, but the problem also becomes the source of their success and inspiration. When a writer is stuck with a difficult individual, salvation can be found among his or her creations. This movie pulls a lot of punches but this particular element of the story will take you pleasantly by surprise.

A Lengthy but Easily Won Battle

Colette’s road to recognition doesn’t feel challenging in the slightest. Her biggest adversaries happen to be men – one in particular. West’s character poses no threat to her dream. Her real enemy is her indecisiveness to act – not exactly a fierce foe. There is no feeling of pressure throughout the story. The presence of a great number of scenes and PC messages connected with misogyny and abuse of transgender people are just stepping-stones in the long run.

These contemporary problems feel like they are brought up with the sole purpose to appeal to the juries that hand out accolades. Otherwise, what is the point of having them if the weight they give to the drama is unsatisfying at best? This is a straightforward picture, as safe as you can imagine. It takes no risks with the feelings of its audience and its award chances. The film is described in its official summary as a story, which changed the way the world thinks. A monumental change like that surely requires loss and sacrifice. The people who make the change happen are supposed to feel the weight on their shoulders. That doesn’t really happen in Colette.

Beautiful, Easy to Digest Entertainment

Go and see the film for its spectacular production design, sympathetic score, Knightley and West’s great performances and most of all – the witty dialogue. Sit back and let the laughs and the entertaining intrigues take over. Don’t think too hard on the ‘’social issues” addressed here. When it comes down to them, the film won’t tell you anything more than you already know. The path to success of this film’s version of Colette is filled with a lot of dazzling beauty, parties and laughs and one powerless antagonist. There’s really nothing in this story that will manage to ruin your feel-good mood. If that works for you, you’re in for an enjoyable ride.

Rating: 6/10

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About the author

Deyan Angelov

My name is Deyan Angelov and I am 25. I have written articles for FilmBook. I graduated from the University of London, Royal Holloway in 2014. I have worked as an air operator, sound recorder and camera operator for different TV stations. I have participated in a variety of internships at Nu Boyana Film Studios.

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