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Non-Review Review: Colette

The story at the heart of Colette is familiar, even to those with little knowledge of its inspiration.

Colette is a story about the eponymous French writer, who rose to fame on the back of a series of novels that fictionalised her own life through the lens of a character named Claudine. Keira Knightley stars in the title role, a young woman from the country who finds herself swept into Paris by her older and more established husband. Publishing under the pen name “Willy”, Henry Gauthier-Villars is something of a cad. He is quick to capitalise on his wife’s artistic voice and to claim her successes for his own. Meanwhile, Colette struggles for her creative freedom and to find a way to express herself.

Go, West!

The broad strokes of Colette are fairly routine, the film following the rhythms and structures of the modern historical biography. Reflecting the modern creative and political climate, there is a great deal of emphasis placed on Colette as a feminist narrative, the story of a young woman trying to assert control over her own voice and come to terms with her own identity. It is certainly a timely story, even if Colette follows the standard biographical film playbook beat-for-beat. Very few developments in Colette come as a surprise, and many of the film’s twists and reversals are helpfully signposted from the get-go.

However, Colette works much better than that assessment might suggest. A lot of this is down to a clever and nimble screenplay from Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland and Rebecca Lenkiewicz. Colette is aware of all the marks that it needs to hit, and that frees the screenplay up to be a little playful in how it develops its beats and what it does when it hits each mark. Colette is a fascinating hall of mirrors, a movie packed with twisted reflections and symmetries, luxuriating in the blurred boundaries between reality and fiction. Coupled with a pair of charming lead performances, this elevates Colette very well.

A picture-perfect marriage.

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Non-Review Review: Centurion

I have to admit, I’m a bit disappointed with Neil Marshall. I’ll concede that I genuinely enjoyed Dog Soldiers and The Descent, while acknowledging their flaws. His movies have a tendency to start in the absurd and just keep amping things up until they get unbelievably ridiculous. Even the over-the-top and quite-crap-actually Doomsday still had a lot of energy to carry it through as it gleefully veered through camp straight out into uncharted realms of gratuitous nonsense. On the other hand, Marshall’s latest, Centurion, seems relatively tame. It’s fairly mediocre throughout, which perhaps seems less entertaining because it never has the energy to go too far. And that’s a bit of shame.

The last Fassbender?

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Non-Review Review: Punisher – WarZone

Punisher: WarZone is not a good film. But it’s not necessarily a poorly-made film, either. There’s a fair amount of skill on display here, but the problem is that the movie never seems to be sure how seriously it wants to be taken. Perhaps the closest point of reference is one of the well-made Steven Seagal films: it spends a great deal of its time delivering what amounts to ridiculousness while offering itself to the audience with a stoic face. It’s a fairly entertaining piece of disposable action fare, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Oh shoot, it's another Punisher movie...

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