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CINEMA - COLETTE

Colette is a 2018 biographical drama film directed by Wash Westmoreland, from a screenplay by Westmoreland, Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Richard Glatzer, based upon the life of the French novelist Colette. It stars Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Denise Gough.

It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018. It was released in the United States on September 21, 2018, by Bleecker Street and 30West. The film premiered in London at the BFI London Film Festival and was released in the United Kingdom on January 11, 2019, by Lionsgate.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette is a young woman from the rural Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye at the end of the 19th century, who begins an affair with Willy. Willy brings Colette to Paris as his bride, with socialites expressing surprise a man like him would marry. Willy refers to himself as a "literary entrepreneur", employing a number of ghostwriters. However, he finds the limited output does not bring in enough revenue to cover his expenses, so he entertains socialites. He commissions one ghostwriter to work on a novel while Colette writes his letters. One day, Colette finds Willy with a prostitute, leading to a separation. He eventually persuades her to return, promising honesty. Colette also tells him of her days as a schoolgirl.

With Willy finding his expenses mounting and himself increasingly unable to pay his writers, he asks Colette to write a novel based on her school stories. She completes a draft of Claudine à l'école, which Willy rejects for lacking plot. Years later, some of Willy's furniture is repossessed, and Willy stumbles on the draft. He suggests revisions, and the novel is submitted and published under Willy's byline. Claudine à l'école becomes a bestseller, particularly attracting female readership. Faced with his first true hit, Willy tells his publisher a sequel is coming, purchases a country house, and locks Colette in a room there to force her to write. Initially objecting, Colette writes Claudine à Paris, which becomes another bestseller.

As Colette and Willy become an increasingly recognized couple, she attracts the notice of Georgie Raoul-Duval, a Louisiana debutante. Georgie and Colette begin an affair. Jealous, Willy also begins an affair with Georgie. Colette discovers this, and bases her next book, Claudine en ménage, on the episode. Fearing scandal, Georgie's husband purchases and burns all copies of the book before sale, but does not purchase the copyright, allowing Willy to reprint and sell the book.

The Claudine books enjoy continued success, including a stage adaptation starring Polaire. Colette begins an affair with Missy, a lesbian socialite who preferred masculine attire. They begin dancing and develop an act at the Moulin Rouge that draws a morally outraged response when they kiss onstage. Willy cites the act as a financial disaster and sells all rights to the Claudine books for 5,000 francs without Colette's knowledge. Angered and feeling betrayed, Colette leaves Willy. Willy asks his employee Paul to incinerate the Claudine manuscripts; Paul returns them to Colette instead. Colette becomes recognized as a writer in her own right, beginning with The Vagabond, published under her byline about her music hall experience.

RATED 15