Colette (2018)

IMDB: [R] Colette is pushed by her husband to write novels under his name. Upon their success, she fights to make her talents known, challenging gender norms.

Rating: [9] 💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚🖤

Set in the 1890s to early 1900s we see a story based on the true life of Colette, a French novelist. There’s dazzling costumes, rich emotions, quick and deep romances, and the perseverance of a prolific artist’s mind.   The setting is stunning and it’s a story begging to be told.  Much like real life, characters are complicated and none are purely virtuous or villainous. 

What I Loved:
The story is fascinating and like many similar stories shows the power imbalance of relationships and society, especially within the arts. The acting is amazing throughout and nothing felt too scripted or rushed. Yet it does a good job of condensing a portion of a life and society at the time into a film.

Throughout the film I found myself rooting for characters, despising others, wishing for romance, of course enamored by an adorable French bulldog.

The styling is absolutely breathtaking in places. It all felt quite real. I’m no expert  but watch my fair share of period-dramas. There was some great attention to detail including Colette writing in French, having armpit hair, rich friends showing off in-home electricity, and even Willy using a chamber pot that gets dumped out the window.

Bonus: The. Costumes. And. Furniture. And. Decor. It’s all very stunning. Plus there was a drop-dead beautiful velvet green sofa that really should just be sent directly to my living room, please.

What I Didn’t Love:
Because this is stretched over many years, we sometimes get jumps in time that feel too disconnected and confused with many names and characters introduced. It can take you out of the world and make some of the story feel thin. After all we haven’t seen the years building up to the emotions we’re meant to believe.

While there are amazing representations of sexual and gender identities, I don’t know for sure if the actors portraying them are a part of those identities. Media lacks representation of these groups and could really use actors who have lived those lives.

“I can read you like the top line of an optician’s chart.”

Camera Shark – A conversation seems more exciting if we swim around it in a dizzying way.

Spoilers: Click to Reveal

I’m unsure how much you can really spoil for something based on a true story. However if you haven’t read her bio or watched the film then I suppose some things may surprise you. I know I didn’t do a deep-dive before watching so I could maintain a bit of magic for myself.

One thing to note is that from what I could see, they slightly gloss over the period after Colette divorced Willy (they separated in 1906). During this time she was apparently a true starving artist. That inspired her book La Vagabonde (1910). In the film, we see her separate but it seems that she’s finding success and love in acting and the arts as the inspiration for that book instead.