The Wrong Fight #colette #filmreview

When the Textiliste and I shared our first flat, we discovered the delights of Marks & Spencer’s ready meals. Precooked meals that you could reheat were hardly novel – Vesta curries had been around for a while – but these hinted a  certain sophistication. One that I still remember was their seafood pasta with its multi coloured strips of pasta and prawns and chunks of cod in a creamy sauce. It took us a while to realise an essential truth about this dish – it was always the same. Every time it looked the same, had the same amount of pasta and fish in it and each tasted identical to the last. And that realisation killed my love for it.

Keira Knightly reminds me of that meal. She is a good actress but, and here’s the thing, she’s always the bloody same. Not the same like Sean Connery who played every part as a grumpy Scotsman even when he was meant to be Irish or quintessentially English, but her anger, her happiness, her frustration and her sadness are portrayed in identical ways. It’s almost like she’s a bit too middle class to really let it go, to surprise us. If Waitrose taught acting…

And this film is a bit like that too. Bland. It centres on the life of Colette the famous French author, and her relationship with her husband Willy and how he manipulated her, effectively stole her early books from her. Willy, played well by Dominic West, equals bad; Colette, aka Keira K equals good.nonce we’ve nailed that dichotomy we can pop out to the bar and come back for the credits

Yet when I first heard about Colette – at  university I think – it was as someone who didn’t so much as break barriers as marmalize them, someone who became a feminist icon. But for all the talk of scandal here you’d not know she’d done anything more socially improper than serve M&S ready meals and pretend they were her own.

This has the feel of an old fashioned biopic, centring on the main relationship (it’s not really – I mean you’d not expect Trevor Howard to hump Greer Garson without one foot kept on the Persian or for Margaret Rutherford to method act an orgasm). It’s essentially inward looking, though. The impact Colette had on the wider society, on the women around her is mentioned as one might hear mention  that Megan Sparkle has bought a new set of tupperware which has sold out. It’s off stage, almost an incidental. A bit of gossip affecting other people. Not that relevant. But that’s the point these things mattered – they still matter – they should have been front and centre but they were anything but.

We meet Colette’s long term love, Missy a brave example of gender confusion. We see Colette, apparently a respectable society women, performing  on stage in the music hall.  But we get no insight into how her writings, her behaviour had a wider impact on the society around her.

Nope, that’s not the theme the director wants us to take away. The big message is how an old duplicitous, lying toerag of a bloke exploited the  young and naive Colette and how, finally, she breaks free. Is that what Colette is to be remembered for? Is that all? Hasn’t that been done to death by others and better?

Of course that remains an important message but I’d hazard a guess that Colette herself would have rather hoped a wider canvas could have been used.

Shame Really. She’s got nice cheekbones.

 

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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22 Responses to The Wrong Fight #colette #filmreview

  1. 🙂 Keep up the critiques. Please!

    Like

  2. Mary Smith says:

    Oh, that sounds so disappointing. I’m a huge fan of Colette’s work. I think I might just re-read her books and the biography I have of her.

    Like

    • TanGental says:

      Do and if you go let me know if, like me, you feel they could have made a much more rounded piece. I fear a little bit of #metoo has infected the direction of the film. You might say that’s not a bad thing, but I think, we’re imto ask those of my contemporaries what they think of when Colette is mentioned, it’s not that part of her life. So, perhaps it’s right that part is aired but coming form the perspective of my own prejudices it fell rather flat.

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  3. M. L. Kappa says:

    You’ve effectively put me off the film 😬

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    • TanGental says:

      Oh dear. Not my intention. It’s enjoyable enough in its own way but a trick missed I fear. But as with all these opinion pieces I love for people to go and make up their own mind. We want cinema to continue to thrive ….

      Like

  4. gordon759 says:

    And, according to other critics, very nice frocks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was wondering about the ‘me too’ infection (I’m not a fan) I’ve noted the bites happening in all kinds of places and in many a movie/TV tale I’ve seen in recent times. I rather feel you have described the delightful Ms K aptly – no matter who she plays she remains the delightful Ms K. and sometimes it works (Love Actually) and sometimes it doesn’t ……. I might wait til the DVD comes out for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Had me laughing. Good review, Geoff

    Liked by 1 person

  7. JT Twissel says:

    The problem with many writers is they lead more boring lives than their characters. I could never imagine Kiera Knightley as a writer. Too glamorous even in rags.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I remember reading Colette in French when I was in high school. I can’t imagine Keira playing her. I always pictured her as my French grandmother as a younger woman–short and busty.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Widdershins says:

    I was similarly disappointed. I expected something … more. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  10. trifflepudling says:

    Thanks for review, confirms I shouldn’t worry about missing it!
    However, it sounds more cheerful than the current Hugo on tv – can’t cope with too much misery in January if I don’t have to 😐

    Liked by 1 person

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