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BFI Patrons’ Gala

Colette

Forget what you know about costume dramas. This witty, Belle Époque-era biopic stars Keira Knightley and Dominic West as literary couple Colette and Willy, whose relationship rewrote social and gender rules.

Dir Wash Westmoreland
Prod Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon, Michel Litvak, Gary Michael Walters
Scr Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland, Rebecca Lenkiewicz
With Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, Eleanor Tomlinson
UK-Hungary-France
2017
112min
UK Distribution Lionsgate

Free-thinking country girl Sidonie-Gabrielle ‘Colette’ is barely out of her teens when she marries ‘Willy’, a literary impresario 14 years her senior; the two become a fixture of the Paris avant-garde salons of the late 19th century. Recognising her talent, Willy puts Colette to work, publishing her under his name. But when her titillating, risqué Claudine series – thinly veiled autobiographical tales of the Sapphic loves of a French school girl – becomes a smash hit, Colette tires of Willy stealing her success and fights back to reclaim her own literary name. Following his Oscar-winning Still Alice, writer-director Wash Westmoreland delivers a rollicking, bang-on-zeitgeist drama (and a glorious tribute to Westmoreland’s late partner Richard Glatzer, with whom he started the project). Dominic West gleefully embodies the charming if sleazy Willy, who is shocked when his wife challenges him. And Knightley is sensational as Colette, blooming from provincial maiden to a radical rule-defying feminist and iconoclast. Colette is a swaggering portrait of a great female artist – defiant in her public affairs with both men and women, and in fighting her husband for her intellectual property rights – and a paean to one of the architects of modern womanhood.

Tricia Tuttle

Additional information

See also Screen Talk: Keira Knightley

The screenings on Thu 11 Oct have an audio-description soundtrack for customers who are blind or partially-sighted. Headphones are available on request at the venue.

The screening on Fri 12 Oct has English language subtitles, including descriptions of non-dialogue audio, for customers who are D/deaf or hard of hearing and an audio-description soundtrack for customers who are blind or partially-sighted. Headphones are available on request at the venue.

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