> Chapter1-Take1: January 2018

Beauty and the Beast was nominated for a Production Design Academy Award: Here's why #book2movies

There are five films nominated for their production design, all quite gorgeous and intriguing looking as you can see below: Beauty and the Beast, The Shape of Water, Dunkirk, Blade Runner and Darkest Hour.

For today, let’s zero in on Sarah Greenwood’s work on Beauty and the Beast. I looked at the Production Design when I first saw Beauty and the Beast last March, and was dazzled by the inventive sets that caught the fantastical elements of the story. 

In my review of Beauty and the Beast I shared that I wanted to take a little closer look at the stunning sets. I appreciate that 'stunning' is one of those words very much in overuse right now. [You won't believe just how stunning ‘celebrity de jour’ looks today.] But in this case, it’s not hyperbole. I would be shocked (really, you won’t believe how jaw-droppingly shocked I would be) if production designer Sarah Greenwood and her art director partner in crime, Katie Spencer didn’t receive a nom, and quite possibly a win. Here, with a nod to Architectural Digest, who had a chat with Sarah Greenwood, that closer look at those phenomenal Beauty & the Beasts dead-drop gorgeous sets. I’ve added photos of the real world inspiration when possible.

“A crew of over 1,000 artisans, workers, and builders, wanted to keep the sets as realistic and highly detailed as possible. “The goal isn’t to have the audience think, ‘That looks just like the castle in the animated film,’” Greenwood says in the production notes. “Instead, you want the audience to feel that this is, in fact, the Beast’s castle, because every detail faithfully supports the story they know and love.” 

The opulent ballroom was designed with the famous waltz scene in mind. The floor’s artwork is based on a ceiling motif at a Benedictine abbey in the Czech Republic.’’

The room’s ten glass chandeliers were based on versions found at the Palace of Versailles.’’

Have you got a favorite in this race? I’m all ears.

Daisy Ridley is Ophelia. Hamlet reimagined from a woman's perspective.

Daisy Ridley stars as Ophelia

“It is high time I shall tell you my story myself,” says Daisy Ridley via voiceover in Ophelia, the cinematic version of Lisa Klein’s novel, a reimagined Hamlet, told from Ophelia's perspective. A woman’s point of view.

High time, indeed. Hashtag TimesUp! Huzzah!

The film screened at Sundance this week. Now we wait to see who picks it up—IF it gets picked up. The Guardian review of Ophelia calls it a disaster, IndieWire calls the script by Semi Chellas “choppy’’ (among other things) and even Vulture who ultimately says it’s a “big, juicy crowd pleaser’’ disses it for being “silly and sophomoric.”

“Ay, there’s the rub.’’

Daisy Ridley herself, gets no blame, and it seems that the cinematography, costumes and production all shimmer. I’m still curious to see Ophelia, but I’d like to start with the trailer, curiously withheld. In the meantime, perhaps I should read Lisa Klein’s book from 2006? ... 

About the book:

He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.
In this reimagining of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen's most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia's happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever . . . with one very dangerous secret. 
Lisa Klein's Ophelia tells the story of a young woman falling in love, searching for her place in the world, and finding the strength to survive. Sharp and literary, dark and romantic, this dramatic story holds readers in its grip until the final, heartrending scene.

Have you read Ophelia? Tell me, are you inclined to give the film a chance?

I’m all ears.

The Goldfinch: Donna Tartt Reads from the Book #book2movies

Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch

I’ve been following the progress of the making of The Goldfinch, based on the bestselling book by Donna Tartt especially closely, because while I’m not a list-y type person, The Goldfinch would be in my top ten all time favorite books if I were. 

We caught up on The Goldfinch film’s casting recently, with the spectacular news that Nicole Kidman was joining the cast as Mrs. Barbour and Finn Wolfhard was on hand to play the young Boris—the older Boris is played by Aneurin Barnard.

Oakes Fegley in Wonderstruck

Wolfhard’s Stranger Things popularity eclipsed the news that Oakes Fegley was cast as the young Theo, the older Theor played by Ansel Elgort. Fegley has been around quite awhile, half a dozen years of his young life have been in front of the camera, most recently starring in Wonderstruck.

Luke Wilson has been cast as Theo’s father, Larry

Another omission in that post? Luke Wilson as Theo’s slacker alcoholic father. 

   And Willa Fitzgerald as Kitsey Barbour.

I think that’s a wrap. The Goldfinch is filming now with a release date set for October 11, 2019. Eeek! It’s going to take almost as long to make the movie as it did for Tartt to write the book!

For today, let’s go back to that ten years in the making book. I ran across a Waterstones video interview with author Donna Tartt. It’s about half an hour in length but right at the beginning she reads from the book and it’s so lovely, I had to share it. Tartt shares a portion of the book about the Goldfinch painting itself, Theo’s long-held precious treasure. IF you haven’t read the book yet, no worry. As Tartt says it’s not a spoiler. 

I wonder as you watch her, the tiny Tartt standing on a riser to reach the podium’ mic, reading about the tiny Finch, if there is not something of the curious little bird about the writer? And if that was perhaps, her initial attraction to the painting? Listen to what she says about the artist Sargent and how he put the animal into the human and see what you think.

What did you think about the tiny Tartt and the tiny Goldfinch?
I’m all ears.

Donna Reed: From Here to Eternity #SaturdayMatinee #book2movies

I do a little 'born on this day' post every day on my twitter account and since today belongs to Donna Reed, how could From Here to Eternity not be our Saturday Matinee?

Donna Reed with Montgomery Clift

Donna Reed, who I grew up watching on The Donna Reed Show, won her only Oscar for playing Alma (aka Lorene) in From Here to Eternity, although you probably remember her best as the girl who won Jimmy Stewart’s heart in It’s a Wonderful Life. Or maybe that's just me? 

Donna Reed with Frank Sinatra

Despite her Best Supporting Actress win, Donna Reed was less than thrilled with how the Oscar impacted her film career. According to the New York Times 
For years Miss Reed struggled to break out of the purity role, and finally succeeded with the part of Alma, a prostitute who befriended the soldier played by Montgomery Clift in ''From Here to Eternity.''
Her success earned Miss Reed the resentment, she said, of studio executives who had carefully nurtured her image. ''The whole point about Alma was she was a prostitute who didn't look like one,'' Miss Reed said. ''Try telling that to the studios. All the Oscar brought me was more bland Goody-Two-Shoes parts.''

It’s not quite the right season for It’s a Wonderful Life—that's a Christmas pleasure, isn’t it?—so let’s take a look at our original From Here to Eternity post and watch the movie on your favorite platform: Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, Vudu & GooglePlay. I don’t find it currently streaming on Netflix but you can order the DVD.

Donna Reed died of pancreatic cancer in 1986 at the age of 64. 

A Futile and Stupid Gesture: My take on the movie [review]

If you’re anywhere around my age which is mumble mumble chances are you’ll enjoy A Futile and Stupid Gesture. The Netflix original about Doug Henney, the driving force behind National Lampoon, Animal House, Caddy Shack and that whole brand of humor. My husband kept saying I remember that cover, I bought that issue, etc.

Being that it’s about funny people, it should be funny and for the most part it is. It’s also eye opening—they were all on coke when they made CaddyShack!—and a little bit tragic. Or a lot tragic when you consider how the movie ends.

Domhnall Gleeson & Will Forté

Anyway, ignore the bad hair—I can’t remember a period film where the hair and makeup department so spectacularly failed—and enjoy the poignant A Futile and Stupid Gesture based on the book by Josh Karp. The movie stars Will Forte as Doug Henney, Domhnall Gleeson as his early partner at Henry Beard, Joel McHale as Chevy Chase, Martin Mull “Modern Doug’’ and Emmy Rossum as Henney’s wife Kathryn.

Half the fun is identifying moments we lived through from the movies and SNL—the show many of the National Lampoon writers left the magazine to join—and deciding how closely the actors channeled the real life characters they played. Gilda, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Lorne Michael. They’re all there.

Watch the trailer, see what you think.

I told you about the hair, right? Are they wigs or just horribly styled? Let me know what you think.

I’m all ears.

Charlie Kaufman to Adapt "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" for Netflix

If you haven’t read it already, put I’m Thinking of Ending Things on your ‘to read’ pile. Oscar winner Charlie Kaufman is set to write and direct an adaptation of Iain Reid’s internationally best selling novel  for Netflix. Kaufman, nominated for his adaptation of The Orchid Thief (Adaptation) and Being John Malkovich won the Oscar in 2004 for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The book is Reid’s debut. I’ve just read the first twenty pages  and it’s as addictive as the cover blurb promises. Both eerie and gripping. When a book begins with a young woman saying I’m thinking of ending things while she’s driving in a car to meet her boyfriend’s parents, the effect is chilling. 

Dakota Fanning in Please Stand By

Maybe because I’ve been watching her in The Alienist, Dakota Fanning comes to mind. Jake, because he comes off a bit shy and awkward, seems a good fit for Freddie Highmore who plays the autistic med student on The Good Doctor

Freddie Highmore in The Good Doctor

But that’s a long way off, in the meantime I’m Thinking of Ending Things has jumped to the top of my own TBR pile.

Here’s how the publisher sums up the book named an NPR Best Book of the Year in 2016:

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always. 
Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.” 
And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here. 
In this “dark and compelling…unputdownable” (Booklist, starred review) literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel “packs a big psychological punch with a twisty story line and an ending that will leave readers breathless” (Library Journal, starred review).

And how Variety describes the story Kaufman has been hired to write

 “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” examines the fragility of the psyche and the limitations of solitude. On a road trip to meet his parents on their secluded farm, Jake’s girlfriend is thinking of ending things. When Jake makes an unexpected detour, leaving her stranded, a twisted mix of palpable tension, psychological frailty, and sheer terror ensues. Reid’s debut novel has been published in 17 territories and received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal and Booklist.
If you’ve read I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reed, what did you think of it? And who would you cast in the key roles?

Meryl Streep Joins Big Little Lies as Nicole Kidman's Mother-in-law #book2movies

Nicole Kidman & Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes 2018

Meryl Streep has just joined the cast of Big Little Lies, season two. No, really!

Ms. Streep will play Mary Louise Wright, the mother of Perry Wright (Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd), mother-in-law to Nicole Kidman’s Celeste. 

According to Variety, after Perry’s death, his mother, “concerned for the well-being of her grandchildren, arrives in Monterey searching for answers.’’

I’m expecting more high drama and some more Big Little Lies. Need I say anything else. Nope, I don’t. Oh, except she’ll be pulling in $800,000 per episode. 

Season Two starts shooting in March with series episodes slated to air late in 2018 and early in 2019.

Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Jeffrey Wright, Finn Wolfhard Join Ansel Elgort in The Goldfinch

Nicole Kidman to play Mrs. Barbour in The Goldfinch

When did Nicole Kidman join the cast of The Goldfinch? Clearly, I've been paying too much attention to things other than my real passion for the book to movie process! Kidman will play Mrs. Barbour, while Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright is on as Theo’s dear friend, mentor and caretaker Hobie.

Jeffrey Wright is Hobie

Ansel Elgort is Theo

They’ll join Ansel Elgort in the starring role of Theo in the adaptation of Donna Tartt’s bestselling The Goldfinch novel being brought to the screen by John Crowley, the director who gave us his beautiful rendition of Brooklyn.

Sarah Paulson is a Smoking Hot Casting Choice for Xandra

Sarah Paulson is the newest addition to the cast. The American Horror Show actor is on a bit of a tear right now with her Golden Globe winning portrayal of Marcia Clarke in American Crime Story propelling her ever forward. Paulson has half a dozen projects in various stages of post and pre-production, The Goldfinch in which she'll play Xandra, among them.

Sarah Paulson cast as Xandra 
‘‘But the restaurant was loud and Xandra (between gulps of white wine—maybe he'd quit drinking but she sure hadn't)was alternately complaining because she couldn't smoke and telling me in a sort of unfocused way how she'd learned to practice witchcraft out of a library book when she was in high school somewhere in Fort Lauderdale. ("Actually, Wicca it's called. It's an earth religion.")
We love Sarah Paulson as Theo’s father’s girlfriend Xandra. Because while I pictured someone a bit more, dare I say it—obviously slutty—her work in American Horror Story has proven her ability to play that kind of gritty character. There is also something caring and maternal at the core of Xandra's character. Paulsen is the kind of exceptional actor who can take a caricature and give her an unexpected level of depth and vulnerability. Also, she clearly knows how to smoke! 

Aneurin Barnard as Boris 
“We looked at each other. And it occurred to me that despite his faults, which were numerous and spectacular, the reason I’d liked Boris and felt happy around him from almost the moment I’d met him was that he was never afraid. You didn’t meet many people who moved freely through the world with such a vigorous contempt for it and at the same time such oddball and unthwartable faith in what, in childhood, he had liked to call “the Planet of Earth.” 
Could Aneurin Barnard—you loved him in War and Peace— be any more perfect to play Boris, Theo’s best friend during his Vegas days and who becomes a central figure later in Theo’s adult life?  

Equally apropros Stranger Things Finn Wolfhard is onboard to play the younger Boris. 

The Goldfinch is just getting underway with director John Crowley—the director of the beautiful Brooklyn—busy setting the key parts. The film is based on Peter Straughan’s screen adaptation of Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winning book. Fingers crossed Straughan delivers a script more akin to his Oscar nominated adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy —he won the BAFTA—rather than his recent adaptation of The Snowman which was a bit of a disappointment.

I’m so blown away by this exquisite casting. I suppose when you’re an acclaimed director casting a film based on an incredibly popular book, you get to pick your dreamcast. What actor wouldn’t want to be in the screen version of one of the book everyone was reading?

What do you think of Ansel Elgort as Theo? Nicole Kidman as the upper-crusty Mrs. Barbour? Sarah Paulson as Xandra? Aneurin as Boris? His young doppleganger Finn Wolfhard?

I’m all ears.

Behind the Scenes of The Alienist with Actress Dakota Fanning

I’m hooked. I’ve watched episode one of The Alienist starring Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning twice now and plan on sticking around for all ten. So far the series is different from the book which is told from the perspective of John Moore, a New York based reporter played by Luke Evans. As I mentioned in my review, in the TV series, at least in episode one, Moore is simply an illustrator who criminal psychologist Dr. Kreizler (Bruhl) needs to depict the crime scenes that the police won’t give him access to. Perhaps Moore begins writing about the crimes in future episodes. 

You can read a few more details about The Alienist, based on the book by Caleb Carr, on this previous The Alienist review post. Or go directly to this very short behind the scenes featurette highlighting Fanning as Sara Howard, the first female to join NYPD, albeit as a secretary. She’s spunky, smart and ready to get involved, not just with solving the crime but possibly with Moore. 

The 10 episode series focuses on the solving of one crime, chances are if ratings are good they can cook up some additional crimes. 

Author Kevin Kwan goes to Google to read from his novel Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians based on the book by Kevin Kwan is on our list of #book2movie titles coming out this year. The film is set for release this summer on August  17th and stars Constance Wu and Harry Golding. You can see the actors who play lovebirds Rachel and Nick chat about the movie below. 

Henry Golding & Constance Wu star in Crazy Rich Asians

But before you tune them in, I thought you might like to come along with me to the Google ‘campus’ where Kevin Kwan reads from his novel and talks about the book, and its sequel, China Rich Girlfriend.

Boy, it sure is getting easier and easier for us introverts to stay home!

Anyway, here we go ... 

Did you read the book? I’ve read the first couple of chapters which felt a bit too frantic, maybe too modern, for me. I like all the inside stuff though, the Asian slang and point of view. I’ll give it another couple of chapters to kick in, especially as I had an uncle who left England for Malaysia back in the 1960's. He ended up marrying a Chinese girl and staying in Singapore for the rest of his life.

How about you? Have you read Crazy Rich Asians? Do you think Hollywood can capture the essence of Kwan’s book?

I’m all ears.

The Alienist starring Luke Evans, Daniel Bruhl & Dakota Fanning. Review of the TV Series Based on Caleb Carr's Novel #book2movie

Daniel Bruhl in The Alienist @Chapter1-Take1.com

Daniel Bruhl is Dr. Laszlo Kreizler in The Alienist based on book by Caleb Carr

Have you read the NY Times bestseller The Alienist by Caleb King. It was wildly popular when it was published in 1994 and it’s now a limited series on TNT & TBS. 

Set in New York at the end of the 19th century, here’s how the show is described on imdb.com
Crime reporter, John Moore, meets with psychologist, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, to investigate a serial killer in New York during the late 19th century.
Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning in The Alienist @Chapter1-Take1.com

Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans & Dakota Fanning star in The Alienist

Hmmm. That’s confusing. In the first episode of the show itself—Moore (Luke Evans) says he’s not a journalist, he’s an illustrator who Dr. Kreizler—the actual Alienist, played by Daniel Bruhl—convinces to help him solve the grisly murder of a young male prostitute via his sketches. Dakota Fanning is onboard as a thoroughly modern young woman, the first woman in the New York Police department. From the previews for upcoming episodes I gather there's a bit of a romance brewing between the two. 

Here’s what the publishers say about the book—which I haven’t heard of! When I saw the publication date, I knew why. My one and only son would have been just about one at the time. I didn’t have time for any book that didn’t tell me how to handle being an older mom at forty and what to expect that first year. Books? Not so many. Anyway, this one sounds good so I know a lot of you have read it. 
When The Alienist was first published in 1994, it was a major phenomenon, spending six months on the New York Times bestseller list, receiving critical acclaim, and selling millions of copies. This modern classic continues to be a touchstone of historical suspense fiction for readers everywhere.

The year is 1896. The city is New York. Newspaper reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned by his friend Dr. Laszlo Kreizler—a psychologist, or “alienist”—to view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy abandoned on the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge. From there the two embark on a revolutionary effort in criminology: creating a psychological profile of the perpetrator based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who will kill again before their hunt is over.

Fast-paced and riveting, infused with historical detail, The Alienist conjures up Gilded Age New York, with its tenements and mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. It is an age in which questioning society’s belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and fatal consequences.

I actually commented to my husband that I didn’t understand how an illustrator would get so involved with the solving of crimes! I’ll have to watch The Alienist again to see what I missed. And then, to be honest, I'll be watching the rest of the series. I like the spunky & resourceful Sara Howard played by Fanning and both of the male leads. The idea of this group coming up with the notion of a serial killer is intriguing and I love the time period, the dark, gloomy alleys, the lush costumer design. It all works.

Here’s the trailer (which also explains why the psychologist is called an alienist)

The Alienist Trailer

Give the show a gander and see how you think The Alienist stacks up. On its own merit or vs the book if you’ve read it. 

I’m all ears.

Colette starring Keira Knightley: Review by Peter Debruge #book2movies

Keira Knightley for Variety by Nadav Kander

“As much as the 1960s were a period of male sexual liberation and definitely a period where we got the pill and there was a sense of freedom, I think that women’s sexual liberation is still a process. What’s interesting is she was experiencing that and writing about that at the end of the 19th century.’’
Keira Knightley on Colette

Director Wash Westmoreland & Keira Knightley on the set of Colette

Still no trailer, but I have a hunch we're going to be hearing a lot about Colette, which just made its debut at Sundance. The film stars Keira Knightley as the French author whose  husband took credit for her work. Colette is expected to come out sometime this year but we get our first sense of it via this review by Peter Debruge of Variety. It makes me want to see the movie which also stars Dominic West, Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, Eleanor Tomlinson, Robert Pugh & Ray Panthaki all the more. I’ve found a few images of the real Colette & Willy; to be honest while ideals of beauty are ever changing, they are not exactly Knightley & West.

Knightley at Sundance premiere 

As much as we romanticize Belle Époque Paris, the City of Light was not so enlightened when it came to women’s rights at the turn of the 20th century. Their fortunes nearly always depended on marriage, or else being “kept” by wealthy men; they were forbidden from wearing pants and could be arrested for being seen in public dressed in men’s clothes; and as pseudonymous literary sensation “George Sand” demonstrated, they were discouraged from writing and publishing, under their own names at least.

And yet, that was the Paris into which Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was whisked upon marrying Henry Gauthier-Villars, AKA “Willy,” a popular author and critic who pushed her to write, then took credit for her wildly successful “Claudine” stories. Less stuffy literary biopic than ever-relevant female-empowerment saga, “Colette” ranks as one of the great rolse for which Keira Knightley will be remembered. While hardly the first English-language feature to go behind the famous French byline (Danny Huston directed the much-derided “Becoming Colette” a quarter-century earlier), it succeeds in tying her story to the zeitgeist, while delving deeper into the love affairs she pursued with other women.

Colette and Willy, 1902 

As cups of tea go, specifically insofar as anticipating whether or not they might be to your taste, the recent film “Colette” most resembles is “The Danish Girl.” Both qualify as well-meaning melodramatic treatments of once-controversial figures whose causes are considerably enhanced by hindsight, and further embellished by eye-catching sets and costumes. (“Colette” is Westmoreland’s best looking film by far — and his first without his late husband, Richard Glatzer — radiantly lit by DP Giles Nuttgens, whose camera seems to float through all those turn-of-the-century Parisian locations light as champagne bubbles.) Plus, both are damn good stories, provided you don’t know all that much about the subjects going in.

 Colette & Willy "Writing" 

Movies dedicated to the lives of writers are typically content to court the well-read, older audiences, but director Wash Westmoreland clearly hopes that Colette’s story will appeal to and inspire young women, in much the same way her most popular character, Claudine, did at the time. Though the genre so often runs the risk of tedium, that’s not the case here, thanks in large part to its leading lady: Despite the fact she’s frequently cast in period pieces, Knightley possesses an enticingly modern quality in both her stride and the brazen, independent-minded way she engages with men on-screen — especially her husband (played with the bombastic charm of a true rouĂ© by Dominic West, every bit Knightley’s equal, even if his character is far beneath hers).
Where women of the time might duck their eyes, Knightley meets the camera’s gaze head-on. She seems unafraid to challenge the status quo, which of course, was the very quality that has made Colette’s story so enticing over the years: Here was an outsider to Parisian polite society (raised in Saint-Sauveur, the provincial town where the film begins) who never embraced the etiquette of the salons, choosing instead to seek out her own company, however scandalous it might look — not that Colette or her husband seemed to mind some good scandal.
Certainly, Willy was determined to tart up Colette’s early manuscripts, quipping, “We need more spice, less literature” — which surely explains why her Svengali-like husband is shown delivering his first critique of Colette’s work while relieving himself in the apartment chamber pot. Westmoreland clearly delights in incorporating such historical details, from the invention of electric lights to heated debate over the Eiffel Tower — now perceived as Paris’ most charming landmark, but un scandal to classicists who felt the iron structure ruined the city’s skyline.

Like Christoph Waltz’s character in Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes” — another artist who passed his wife’s work off as his own — Willy makes an easy villain, though the social climate at the time was as much to blame in “Colette.” Granted, he could be cruel, treating her more like a slave than a partner, as in a scene where he locks Colette in a room and forces her to write, but both West and Westmoreland seem determined to capture the complexity of their relationship, especially where their love life was concerned. (This element gains an added level of poignancy when one considers that “Colette” was written by gay-married partners, whose collaborative spirit corrects for the imbalance in the division of labor and credit between Willy and Colette.)

Backed in part by “Carol” producer Christine Vachon and Killer Films, “Colette” doesn’t shy away from its protagonist’s same-sex attractions; neither does it play her various love affairs for cheap exploitation. There are two women Colette finds she simply can’t resist: American-in-Paris Georgie Raoul-Duval (Eleanor Tomlinson) and cross-dressing noblewoman Mathilde de Morny, or Missy (Denise Gough), with whom she shared Paris’ first documented same-sex kiss on stage.
To Colette’s credit (in the film at least), she seeks her husband’s permission before pursuing either mistress — a courtesy Willy doesn’t necessarily extend in return, even going behind her back to bed Georgie as well. Theirs was clearly a complicated marriage, as scandalous today as it would have been at the time. And yet, Colette is shown to cherish honesty above all else in her marriage, nearly leaving Willy each time she catches him in a lie — as when the slipper cad claims to be broke, but is revealed to be sponsoring une femme entretenue (a lover whose rent and allowance are provided for) on the side.
It doesn’t help that the chief strain on their relationship appears to have been financial, as Willy spent money faster than he could earn it, depending on a “factory” of writers to keep him afloat. The way his system worked, Willy would commission work from an extensive team of authors, then slap his name on it. Thus, all could benefit by what celebrity Willy had managed to cultivate in public. (It hardly seems fair, but isn’t so different from the way a prolific composer like Hans Zimmer operates today, employing a stable of young musicians and passing their contributions off as his own.) 
Speaking of music, one of the film’s strongest assets is its score, the first written expressly for the screen by British opera composer Thomas AdĂšs, and the source of so much of what audiences perceive as Colette’s sparkling intellect. The entire movie seems brighter by dint of AdĂšs’ nimble piano and alert string work, propelling us forward through so many elegantly photographed, Merchant-Ivory like scenes in which stuffy snobs stand around in expensive waistcoats. In his capacity as a theater critic, Willy warns early of the dangers of bad theater, which he likens to painful dentistry. It’s as if Westmoreland is issuing his own challenge, effectively dodging the pitfalls of period-set parlor dramas by demonstrating how Colette’s strides toward equality were among the first in the ongoing march for women. As the French put it, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la mĂȘme chose.” At least “Colette” stands for change.’ 
Review by Peter Debruge/Variety

So much to talk about! What do you think? 

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