Colette is yet another period drama starring Keira Knightley. If that sentence doesn’t sum up my feelings about this film, I don’t know what will. Mostly, Colette tells the story of, well, Colette as she ghostwrites a series of novels for her husband whilst struggling with the social restraints of being gay. The story of Colette is so interesting and admirable, but the film conveys this with such lackluster overtones it becomes a snoozefest.
20th Century Women: It should be noted that the set and costume design is outstanding throughout and perfectly establishes a 20th Century Paris setting. However, like most period dramas, there’s a vast difference between narrative enjoyment and the enjoyment of fetishized props. And the narrative is so painful to watch. Somehow the pacing is fast and slow at the same time. So much happens during the runtime but feels so slow you can’t wait for it to end. This is one of the main reasons why Colette and her husband’s romance feels so fake as there isn’t enough build up to feel empathy.
Night Night Knightley: We’re at a time where any film starring Keira Knightley is safe to assume that it is a period drama. Being the queen of typecast, this role is completely indistinguishable from her others making the portrayal of Colette incredibly boring. Stated earlier, I felt little to no empathy for Colette or even her husband. And the pacing is so uncomfortable I was unaware of her marriage or even location at some points. In terms of performances, Keira Knightley, Dominic West, and Eleanor Tomlinson were so mediocre that so many jokes failed to land and the chemistry between them was invisible.
Unimportance: The strive behind Colette and gaining the rights for her book is triumphant. Not only is it a personal affair but one that will be a landmark for women’s rights worldwide which is why she is such a prominent figure not just in French Literature but the world. That’s why it is such a shame the film does no justice to her character. Whilst the sexuality aspect was touched upon, it was originally shown under comedic circumstances making the serious moments, later on, feel weak and uninspired. Important aspects of the film take second place to make sure the environment feels right. But how can the sets feel real if the people and interactions don’t?
Please End:Colette is simply a poor film. Weak writing and acting give the audience no motivation for empathy so, when the audience eventually loses focus with the set and prop work, Colette becomes so bland to continue watching. Whilst not an inherently long film (110 minutes), I was completely exhausted by the end of it trying to make sense of a messy edit between times, locations, and characters. Just dull.
Tasteless and bland Colette doesn’t succeed with anything it sets out to. Unless the crew wanted the audience to nap.