Colette: Safe, Enjoyable Biopic of French Writer, Dominated by Keira Knightley’s Performance

There have been numerous screen (and stage) versions of the notable and notorious French writer Colette, and now comes yet another biopic, simply called Colette, a rather conventional, if also light and enjoyable feature from director Wash Westmoreland.

The main reason to see this safe and mainstream–and not too deep–biopic is the strong performance of Keira Knightley, who digs deep into the titular role with a feisty and fearless approach that emphasizes the positive and less positive elements of a woman, whose persona and lifestyle were well ahead of her times.

As scripted by Westmoreland (previously known as Wash), Richard Glatzer and Rebecca Lenkiewicz, the film spans about a decade, detailing the early adult years of the famed French writer as she marries, moves to Paris, and begins a lifestyle that societal defies norms of the time.

Uneven, the tale sheds light on Colette’s motivation to become a writer, and how she developed her talents and skills, and mostly her complex relationship with her husband Willy (Dominic West), who who takes credit for Colette’s writing as her Claudine series becomes a sensation.

The arrangement is unfair, but Colette finds other satisfying outlets for her literary frustrations and sexual anxieties, such as sleeping with women.

World premiering at the 2016 Sundance Film Fest, Colette is released theatrically by Bleecker Films, but there is no particular rush to see the movie on the big screen.  Modest in scale and ambition, and aiming to appeal at broader audiences (despite the lesbian scenes, which are deliberately handled with taste and restraint), here is a feature that could be viewed on the small screen and VOD.