Colette Movie Ending Explained (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

In the biographical drama COLETTE Keira Knightley takes on the role of the eponymous writer, whose work remained hidden for a long time. In my review I reveal what makes the film a strong cinematic contribution to the current zeitgeist.

The Plot Summary

When Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) marries the successful Parisian author Willy (Dominic West), her life changes suddenly: she moves from rural France to turbulent Paris and becomes part of the intellectual and cultural elite. Willy, who is plagued by writer’s block, convinces his young wife to work for him as a ghostwriter. In her debut novel, Colette tells the story of a self-confident young woman named Claudine. A semi-autobiographical novel that becomes a bestseller under Willy’s name and brings him wealth and fame. More Claudine bestsellers quickly emerge – written by Colette – and ultimately an entire brand world. Little by little, Colette begins the struggle to overcome social constraints and to be able to reveal herself as the true author of the successful books in order to claim her works as her own.

Movie explanation of the ending

The #MeToo debate has not only sparked a long-overdue discussion in Hollywood about equality behind the scenes of the dream factory. Raising awareness of the grievances that are rightly denounced is also having an increasing impact on the films themselves. It is still unfortunate that two films with almost identical themes are released in the same opening week (in United Kingdom); “The Nobel Prize Winner’s Wife” and the “Colette” discussed here are released in cinemas with only a small number of copies anyway and are likely to appeal to a very similar target audience. It’s a shame that two such successful films then threaten to steal away the few viewers. One thing is beyond doubt: After Glenn Close’s exceptional performance as a wife overshadowed by her husband as a muse, Keira Knightley is also convincing as Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, one of the most important French writers of all. In addition, director Wash Westmoreland takes a similar approach to bring his serious and still topical subject matter to the viewer. In “Colette” too, the protagonist is not a silent victim, but rather a woman who rebels at an early age and who knows early on how to deal with the social rules that prevailed at the time.

Colette (Keira Knightley) and Willy (Dominic West) on a trip to the land together.

The fact that Wash Westmoreland, one of the directors of “Still Alice – My Life Without Yesterday,” is responsible for “Colette” is evident in the film. In the true story about a linguist who suffered from Alzheimer’s in middle age, the British-born artist (also in keeping with the original) paid careful attention to ensuring that his protagonist was never reduced to a victim and thus always retained her dignity; and even in moments when this was hardly possible due to external circumstances alone. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette is now experiencing a similar situation, whose works such as “Chérie”, “Mitsou” and “Awakening Hearts” have sold millions of copies to date and have been translated into more than thirty languages. The script by Westmoreland himself, Richard Glatzer (already directed “Still Alice” with him) and Rebecca Lenkiewicz (“Ida”) takes a lot of time to establish the decade in which “Colette” takes place. The patriarchal conditions in which books by women simply did not sell and the bookstores therefore only stocked novels by men, in which a woman was not even allowed to decide what she would wear to a party or in which she was forbidden from spending money to dispose of are those into whom Sidonie is born and, at least initially, submits. Just like her husband Willy simply doesn’t know any other way than to live like this. But Colette knows how to see through the circumstances in contrast to those around her.

At first with small gestures, later with increasingly rebellious behavior, Colette begins to assert herself against her husband. Nevertheless, the makers never forget that there is believable, romantic chemistry between the two. Up to a certain point, Willy doesn’t act explicitly evil towards his wife, but rather disposes of her as he pleases because he simply doesn’t know any other way. Only when Colette specifically confronts him with his failures and the sometimes irrational laws and customs in society at the time and Willy is unwilling, out of complacency, to think outside the box and respond to his wife’s appeal to finally rethink things, does he calm down based on his position, which is where the actual conflict arises. Westmoreland stages all of this with a pleasant lightness, which he underlines by briefly discussing in the second half how a fan cult actually arises when every (lifestyle) product, no matter how useless, can suddenly be bought with the order of the novel’s heroine Claudine The supposed creator of the character threatens to lose himself further and further in his fictional world.

Willy enjoys his success.

Particularly in the second half of “Colette,” another narrative aspect takes up space. With the appearance of the character of Missy (Sloan Thompson makes an impressive debut here), who dresses like a man and, like Colette, tries to scratch the understanding of social gender norms, another subplot opens up: At that time it wasn’t just It was frowned upon to do what you wanted as a woman. Acceptance of same-sex love was also still far ahead of what one would call natural. From then on, Colette becomes a success not only because of the continued success of the Claudine books, for which her husband basically refers to her as a muse and shows her off at public events, but also because of her initially friendly, later amorous relationship with Missy. Anyone who thinks that all these complex topics would overload “Colette” is wrong. With his fourth feature film, Wash Westmoreland presents a tidy drama that never feels cumbersome, but which always remains believable due to its closeness to the material. And a very strong Keira Knightley (perhaps precisely because of her proximity to the topic). (“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”)who always protects her character from victimhood with her tough demeanor, and a no less great Dominic West (“Tomb Raider”) put the crown on the whole thing.

Conclusion: With “Colette”, Wash Westmoreland has created a strong biopic about one of the most successful French writers of the 20th century, which could have elaborated on some aspects in more detail, but overall is pleasing due to the lack of excessive emotionalization and the strong characterization of the main character.

“Colette” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from January 3rd.

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