The London Film Festival continued on October 11 with Keira Knightley‘s new period drama “Colette” playing to three cinema screens packed full of press. This biopic of the acclaimed writer is set in turn of the century Paris and is directed by Wash Westmoreland (“Still Alice”). It co-stars the terrific Dominic West as Colette’s husband, Willy. Here’s the official synopsis: Colette is pushed by her husband to write novels under his name. Upon their success, she fights to make her talents known, challenging gender norms.
The film was very well-received here, with many an appreciative laugh heard during the more relevant jokes and topics raised during the film. This period piece is quite relatable to a lot of people today, with the struggle of gender norms a hot button issue. The filmmakers play on that during several scenes. Colette herself will be admired by many, as she develops from cute, timid farmhouse girl to a fully-independent woman who does exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to confront any man. Credit to the screenwriters for that – this is a story set in the 1890’s, but it manages to be a forward-thinking film, too.
Knightley has been praised for her strong performance and could garner her third Oscar nomination. Her first two bids also came for period films: Best Actress in 2005 for “Pride & Prejudice” and Best Supporting Actress in 2014 for “The Imitation Game.” And remember, Westmoreland directed Julianne Moore to a Best Actress victory for “Still Alice.”
West is a charming actor with natural charisma, something that comes into play in this film. He could get in at the Globes. He has been nominated over on the TV side for his starring roles in “The Hour” and “The Affair.”
Among the below-the-line categories, Best Production Design and Best Costume Design are it’s two best hopes of Oscar glory. In recent times, “Beauty & the Beast,” “Fantastic Beasts,” “The Danish Girl,” “Darkest Hour,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” are all period films that have been nominated for Production Design, with the latter winning. It also claimed Costume Design as did the version of “Anna Karenina” that starred Knightley.
“Colette,” with its detailed sets and ornate costuming, would fit right alongside these films. Production designer Michael Carlin shared an Oscar nomination in 2006 for his work on “The Duchess,” another Knightley-starring period film. Anyone sensing a pattern here?
Costume designer Andrea Flesch hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar yet, but could go along for the below the line design ride. In the last three Oscar ceremonies, “The Shape of Water,” “Darkest Hour,” “Beauty & the Beast,” “La La Land,” “Fantastic Beasts,” “The Revenant,” “The Danish Girl” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” all received nominations in both Costume Design and Production Design. It’s a pair of categories that often go hand in hand and “Colette” could join them.