Starring Keira Knightley in the title role, Colette charts the rise of the acclaimed French novelist born in 1873. Unconventional country girl Sidonie- Gabrielle Colette marries a charismatic egomaniacal man of letters 14 years her senior, known by the single name Willy (played by Dominic West). Through him, Colette is introduced to the artistic demimonde of 1890s Paris, where her creative appetite is sparked. Ever quick to capitalise on talent, Willy permits Colette to write her novels only if she does so in his name.
The phenomenal success of her Claudine series makes him famous, and Colette and Willy become the first modern celebrity couple. Although they are the toast of the town, lack of recognition for her work begins to gnaw away at Colette. Their marriage starts to disintegrate but, emotionally and artistically, she cannot break free of him. On a downward slide, Willy resorts to increasingly desperate measures to pay his debts and sabotage his wife, but Colette is developing resources of her own.
Colette tells the story of a woman who has been denied her voice by an overbearing man and who goes to extraordinary lengths to find it. It’s a battle of the sexes at the beginning of the modern age, when seismic shifts were taking place in the roles of men and women. More than a century after the publication of her first novel, Colette is still one of the bestselling and most beloved of French authors.
YOU’s free screenings of Colette will take place at a selection of 25 cinemas nationwide at 6.30pm on Tuesday 8 January; the film will go on general release on Wednesday 9 January.
Colette, played by Keira Knightley, with her husband Willy (Dominic West)