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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)

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