October 1, 2018

Colette is a biopic of the early 20th century French writer, starring Keira Knightley. It’s long and leisurely and visually lush in the way of a lot of biopics, especially ones of artistic people. And like a lot of biopics of writers it says some true things about writing while also making the writing life look impossibly romantic.  I mean, writing is just a really slow process, so you gotta take cinematic short cuts. But mostly what the movie is interested in is Colette’s unconventional life and career, and that’s where it shines, in its positive portrayal of genderqueer and genderfluid characters.

I also learned that Colette was born exactly a hundred years before I was.

For all that I enjoyed the film, I left angry because that thing where a brilliant woman creator had an egotistical and overbearing husband who constrained, damaged, or took advantage of her apparently happened enough that there’s a whole genre about it. Big Eyes about Margaret and Walter Keane, Sylvia about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.  Colette’s early novels were published under her husband’s name. He would lock her in a room until she produced more. When she suggested maybe putting her names on the books too, he did not react well. Eventually she left him, and wrote plenty under her own name.

During the movie I thought about the Impressionist artist Marie Bracquemond, whose husband was also a painter, resentful of her talent to the point where she stopped painting at all.

It just… it’s infuriating. Once is a sad story. Two, three, four. . . that’s a pattern. And it sucks.


One Response to “Colette”

  1. howardbrazee Says:

    I saw the play at the Denver Center for Performing Arts – staring Diana Rigg!!!

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