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History is about to change. 

Year: 2018 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Wash Westmoreland 
Starring: Keira Knightley, Fiona Shaw, Dominic West  
An image from Colette

A poor country girl, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley – Imitation Game) ‘Colette’ to her friends, is swept off her feet by the wealthy, urbane and successful writer Henry Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West – The Affair, The Wire) and his promises of the bright lights and the intellectual life of Paris. Once she becomes his wife, however, life with ‘Willy’ as he is commonly known, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

Willy seems to be incapable of being faithful to just one woman, though this leaves Colette more time to have her own extra-marital affairs with other women. Willy’s literary skills actually involve roping in people to ‘ghost-write’ for him so he can take the credit for their work, and his spending is driving them to bankruptcy. He persuades Colette to write a semi-autobiographical novel about her school days, ‘Claudine’. The novel is a roaring success, and Willy becomes the toast of the town! (It’s published in his name since a female writer wouldn’t be taken seriously in early 20th century France.) After penning more highly popular books resulting in a highly profitable range of ‘Claudine’-branded soaps, dolls, perfume etc., Colette decides to fight to be recognised as the true author.

This is a sharp and captivating biopic from Wash Westmoreland, director of such films as Still Alice. Knightley is luminous – witty, playful, yet with an underlying hard edge - in her battle against gender boundaries which still feels relevant today.

Natalie Tyldesley-Marshall

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Screenings of this film:

2018/2019 Spring Term (digital)