Colette is an engaging biopic of Gabrielle Colette, the most celebrated female author in the history of French literature. Keira Knightley gives a compelling performance in the title role, and the story is really fascinating. The only problem I find is that we don’t get to see enough of it. The first half of the film feels like it’s rushing to get to the second half, stopping long enough to set up details that will be important later, but not taking the time to explore the narrative. I kept wanting it to slow down and tell me the story, not just tell me about it, before jumping ahead. The rushing also didn’t leave adequate time for chemistry to develop between Knightley and Dominic West, playing Colette’s husband Wily.
The second half of the film does slow down to tell the story, and that’s when I really started to enjoy it. Knightley and West seem to connect more, and we get a chance to really dig in to an interesting story. After enjoying the second half of the film so much, I wished even more that the first hadn’t rushed by. I feel like this could have been a fantastic 6-8 episode limited series on a streaming service, and really give all the players more time to shine. I also have to say the production design does a great job of creating the period of late 19th century France.
Even with the rushed first half, I recommend checking out Colette. It’s worth a look particularly for Keira Knightley’s performance, which I’d be surprised if it doesn’t get some attention in award season.