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I’m not a fan of writer/director Wash Westmoreland. His movie Still Alice (Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin) was just awful.

Westmoreland co-wrote that, and this film, with his late husband Richard Glatzer. The movie was a pleasant surprise. It’s a period piece that wasn’t as stuffy as most.

Gabrielle Sidonie is a bit unrefined when we first meet her. She’s having an affair with Willy (Dominic West), and quickly realizes he’s a cad, who also drinks and gambles too much. He’s not as quick, to realize that she also likes women. And, that she’s a great writer. That becomes useful, since he’s got a staff of people ghostwriting for him — reviews, short stories, etc.

The novels she starts writing are a success. Of course, Willy dictates a lot of the directions the stories go in. He also encourages Colette to explore her sexuality. He seems to both get aroused by that prospect, as well as realizing it’s material for future novels. And you thought Colonel Parker called all the shots for Elvis.

The film had a lovely score, and cinematographer Giles Nuttgens (Hell or High Water) has some beautifully framed shots.

There are gorgeous sets and costumes you’d expect from a period piece. Although, it was a bit weird to see French characters speaking English, with British accents, and writing in French.

The performances were terrific, although a woman this interesting needed a biopic that was a little less safe and conventional.

It was odd that we seem to see more of Willy than Colette. I would’ve liked more of her writing and inspiration, and less of him bending over and farting, or acting like a misogynistic jerk. If the film would’ve been titled Colette & Willy, okay. Also, why just show her early career? She became a powerhouse French author. It’s a shame we were relegated to merely viewing her early years.

This makes a great companion piece with The Wife from a few months ago.

2 ½ stars out of 5.


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