Colette Blu-ray Review
So we're not going to talk about the affair she had with her own 16 year old stepson, right?
Movies & TV reviewSRP: £15.00
Colette Film Review
Keira Knightley goes period once again to play a celebrated female artist from the past, in the biography of Colette.Knightley loves period dramas, reportedly making some comment about how she doesn't like the amount of sexual violence against women in modern-set movies, and how "the female characters nearly always get raped." Although there's both questionable validity in both that comment and the notion that period-set dramas are any more safe in the sexual-violence-against-women arena, there's no doubt that the actress loves strong female roles from the past, striking out again here with this look at the celebrated French author, Colette.
Introducing us to a young French girl whose affair with a much older businessman, Willy, soon leads to marriage, Colette is soon shown to be every bit the equal of her bumbling larger-than-life husband, whose business largely requires ghostwriters to further his stagnant bibliography. Colette eventually becomes one of these writers and, under the guidance of Willy, crafts her very own book franchise, finding plentiful emotional material in both her frustrations over Willy's infidelity and her own affairs with women, which Willy surprisingly condones. When Colette wants to be recognised under her own name, however, the love-hate relationship between the two starts to fracture.
It's difficult to know quite what the message is from this 'biography' of Colette, other than that she had a surprisingly good life considering the era she was born into
Colette is an odd biographical drama. It portrays its lead female character as strong, defiant, intelligent and outspoken, and its lead male character as - ostensibly - a despicable buffoon, but scratching below the surface and actually the two have a surprisingly effective marriage both in terms of their relationship and their work together. Willy is pretty tame by French standards of the period, and Colette ill-advisedly defiant, whilst his acceptance of his wife's 'affairs' appears downright modern in attitude, even if some of the ensuing complications are less honourable. He's also portrayed as being a horrific taskmaster, but actually appears to be the only one who can channel her 'art', using her emotion - more often her anger - to fuel her work. It's an odd relationship, but far more love/hate than just "put-upon wife overshadowed by manipulative husband".
There's also something curiously - perhaps intentionally - misleading about the portrayal of Colette's sexuality, in that she's shown to be drawn to, and fall in love with a succession of women, but the narrative fails to explore the three marriages she went through, the last of which ended due to the affair she was having with her own husband's 16 year old son. In a cynical world, this might be seen as rebranding.
Despite all of this, the lead actors Keira Knightley and Dominic West do a stand-up job. Knightley appears to have been born in the wrong Century, because she laps this kind of role up, looking absolutely ageless, and proving a strong and defiant female 'hero' throughout, whilst West may be somewhat hampered by typecast (several seasons on a TV show specifically called The Affair will do that) as his character is actually far less unpleasant than one might assume at first glance. It's difficult to know quite what the message is from this 'biography' of Colette (whose own books have spawned arguably more interesting adaptations), other than that she had a surprisingly good life considering the era she was born into.
Colette Blu-ray Picture QualityLionsgate Home Entertainment UK bring Colette to Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a suitably impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation which does a great job delivering the refined period images, costumes and style with modern clarity but classic stylisation.
A strong, borderline excellent, video presentation
Detail remains impressive throughout, bringing fine nuances to Knightley's perfected visage, West's wispy beard, and all of the period trappings that affect costumes and sets. There is a refined classic look to the piece, but it never comes at the expense of clarity. The colour scheme is rich and sometimes really quite vibrant, particularly when looking at the exterior parks which afford lush greens. Interiors are often decadent, with plenty of brown tones from the dominant wood presence, whilst black levels are strong and form a solid backbone to the presentation. There are a couple of noisier shots, but otherwise the grain level is fairly stable and allows the image a suitably filmic veneer. Overall, it is a strong, borderline excellent, video presentation.
Colette Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also strong enough to hold its own, delivering the core elements of dialogue, music and effects with aplomb, and giving the film some rich ambience that further builds the atmosphere of the piece.
A strong aural accompaniment
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised throughout, particularly Knightley's occasional 'narration', whilst effects are strictly ambient in design, bringing parties, shows and crowds to life, but seldom afforded anything more - although that's only to be expected given the material. The score helps give the feature some momentum and energy, and allows the surrounds some more regular warmth and fuel, rounding out a strong aural accompaniment.
Colette Blu-ray ExtrasHardly brimming with extras, this is also not a bare bones release, with a few nice pieces to offer a little background into the production.
A few nice extras
A couple of very short Featurettes look briefly at the story and further at one particular scene, whilst we also get a few Deleted Scenes and a look at the Costumes to round out the disc.
Colette Blu-ray VerdictKnightley enjoys her strong, rich period roles, and Colette is certainly one of them, even if the depth of character and strength of story is not always at the forefront, and certainly not enough to make for a compelling watch.
A strong enough purchase for fans of the film
Lionsgate's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Colette appears to match up to their preceding US release, with generally excellent video and audio, and a smattering of extras to keep it from being bare bones, leaving it a strong enough purchase for fans of the film.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.00
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