Tag: Eleanor Tomlinson

Colette

colettePart way through Colette, our lead says to her husband “I can read you like the top line of an optician’s chart.” It is an amusing but biting line signaling the refreshing winds of change that sweep through this proto-feminist period drama.  Don’t be fooled into dismissing Colette as yet another stuffy costume snore starring a type-cast Keira Knightley. No, this quick-witted and feisty feature crackles with energy and humour as it pits the forces of traditional marital dynamics against a lop-sided distribution of talent.

Set in Paris during the turn of the twentieth century, this is the true story of novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Knightley) and her marriage to Henry Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West). Willy, as he was affectionately known to his adoring public but latterly referred to by Colette as a “fat, smug, lazy, selfish bastard” was a patron of hedonistic excess and an “author” whom Colette dutifully ghostwrote for. Willy became a celebrated rock-star of the Parisian literary field despite his fragile empire being built on the duplicitous foundations of Colette’s writing talent. It is a familiar tale of sexist and professional treachery that will no doubt garner comparisons to the recent film The Wife (starring Glen Close). However, this is more than The Wife’s “behind every great man” story, as Colette dives head first into the sexual politics of a woman coming to terms with her autonomy and gender identity.

It is a simple story but with wonderfully complex characters that you can really sink your teeth into, and thankfully screenwriter Richard Glatzer (Still Alice) takes plenty of time to explore them.  The two leads offer vibrant performances that bristle with a pin-sharp wit as they boil in their volatile chemistry.  Knightly’s take on a blossoming woman in a society that demands feminine submission encapsulates a heady mixture of humility and rage as she bounces off West’s quite brilliant balance of bombastic bluster and faux naivety. 

Although the film’s somewhat rigid visual style doesn’t quite match the lively milieu of its characters, this thoroughly entertaining biopic is worth seeing for the two outstanding performances alone.

See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.

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Loving Vincent

lvThe process of animating over the top of pre-shot footage (rotoscoping) is a procedure that has existed since the dawn of cinema, most notably applied recently by Richard Linklater (A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life). Loving Vincent pushes the envelope further, with Directors Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela (and an army of artists) making the technically ambitious decision to turn their film into a Van Gogh oil painting through the arduous process of hand painting each frame. While some might find this a painstaking exercise in gimmickry, there is little doubt that the result is an immersive experience, nudging you ever closer to the work of the famous Dutch painter. Certainly, Loving Vincent is a film where you could hang any one of its overwhelming 65,000 frames on your wall—although at twelve frames per second, the resulting animation takes a little adjustment.

The film investigates the months leading up to Vincent Van Gogh’s death. Postmaster’s son Roulin (Douglas Booth) has been charged with the task of delivering Vincent Van Gogh’s posthumous letter to his now late brother, Theo.  Upon arriving in the Parisian suburb of Auvers-sur-Oise, home to a close companion of Vincent, Roulin discovers that the locals have conflicting accounts of Vincent’s apparent “suicide”.  The mysterious events surrounding Vincent’s death become a fascination for Roulin as he sleuths his way around the town looking very much like a gumshoe wanting to crack a murder case.

Van Gogh aficionados will be quick to point out that each character is inspired by, or in some cases is the actual subject of, Van Gogh’s paintings—and although this bolsters the authenticity of the film, it is somewhat jarring to see very recognisable actors playing these parts. An unmistakable Jerome Flynn (Bron, from Game of Thrones) in oil on canvas feels a little odd at first, but you soon get used to it.

It is evident that writing is not Welchman and Kobiela’s strength and the beautiful visuals, unfortunately, can’t hide a screenplay which feels at times trite and stagey.  Nonetheless, Loving Vincent remains a visually unique film that piques enough narrative intrigue to be worth watching.

Read the full review for the NZ Herald here.