French fancies

Keira Knightley brings Colette, France’s famously bisexual actress, feminist and writer of Gigi, to life



Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Denise Gough, Eleanor Tomlinson, Dickie Beau

Another literary biopic? I know, I know, but trailblazi­ng French author Colette deserves film treatment more than most — the surprise is that it’s taken this long to do it. Bisexual and fiercely feminist, she stood out even amid the cultural subversion­s of fin- de- siècle Paris. The story of her career, emerging from shadowy beginnings as a ghost writer for her celebrated husband, Willy, is a great yarn in itself, and that’s before we get to her sideline as a saucy music- hall performer. From a script written with his late husband Richard Glatzer, British director Wash Westmorela­nd ( Still Alice) offers a lively, lushly styled breeze through her early years, overcoming a slightly stiff start to channel some of Colette’s own playfully queer sensibilit­y. Knightley’s on fine form, too, evidently relishing the opportunit­y to play an unbuttoned character for a change, with West a perfect foil as her twinkling bastard of a husband. 11 January

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