French author Colette died on this day in 1954. She is the subject of a biopic to be released in the US next month, directed by Wash Westmoreland and starring Keira Knightley. Now, I can claim no extensive knowledge of Knightley’s filmography, but her acting style from the few examples I have encountered seems … well, what is the exact opposite of losing yourself in a role? Because that’s what I’m seeing. Witnessing her self-consciousness on screen I can never shake the feeling that she is about to turn to the camera and say, “Hi, I’m Keira Knightley, and this is what we call acting.”
That aside (and noting that I haven’t actually seen the work in question), the existence of a movie about Colette is surely a good thing, and the trailer suggests that it squarely addresses the author’s indenture to her husband Willy, but a passing glimpse of a suited female character striding alongside Colette suggests something truly thrilling. Could that be Colette’s lover Missy, the extraordinary Mathilde de Morny? Oh yes it is, played by Denise Gough. And the cast list further reveals that Rebecca Root will be playing Rachilde, the cross-dressing Decadent provocateuse who resented Colette’s greater success. Will she be Salieri to Colette’s Mozart? In any case, the inclusion of two of the most electrifying figures of the Belle Époque should prove more than enough reason to see Colette.