Locked up in an insane asylum, the Marquis (Geoffrey Rush) soon discovers that erotic writing can serve a therapeutic purpose in soothing his uncontrollable libido. With the help of a laundry maid (Kate Winslet), he’ll publish his salacious and grossly indecent stories for public consumption and reading. But little does he know that his works will eventually earn him an infamous spot in history while simultaneously offending the entire French aristocracy.
The movie’s supporting cast also plays a big role in the story’s success. Joaquin Phoenix, breaking out his British accent from GLADIATOR, was solid as usual in the role of asylum priest and warden. I was particularly stricken with Kate Winslet’s character who in playing opposite Rush, was feisty and fun to watch. In a smaller role, Michael Caine was decent as the diabolical doctor who’s just as perverse and crazy as the Marquis, just in his own twisted way. All in all, a great job from the entire cast. Historical pieces often give good glimpses into the style of life which marked the times and this movie is no different. When not reviewing DVDs, I moonlight as a psychology student and couldn’t believe how poorly the mentally ill were treated. I’ve often read about the horrid conditions but this movie really helped shed light on how terrible things really were, look for the “treatment” sessions throughout the movie. Quills is at times, profoundly moving and at the same time, grossly funny and definitely worth checking out.
Kicking off the added features is “Marquis on the Marquee”, a 5-minute featurette which focuses primarily on writer Wright’s role in bringing his play to the big screen. We also get interviews with cast members Rush, Winslet, Caine and Phoenix. It’s very brief in length but worth going through. Next up is “Creating Charenton” which is another quick extra which goes into the creation and design of the insane asylum featured in the movie along with input from production design Martin Childs. “Dressing the Part” is another short 3-4 minute featurettte which provides an interview with costumer designer Jacqueline West and what inspired her to create the looks for certain characters. Worth a look.
My favorite supplement on the disc was the “Still Gallery and Production Artifacts”, which was a slide show of written texts from the Marquis shown in the movie. It was cool to read some of his “racier” works firsthand. Closing out the bonuses is a theatrical English and Spanish trailer as well as TV and soundtrack spots as well as a “Fact and Film”, an extra which provided historical notes on the real life character portrayed in the movie. The DVD does feature some pretty cool menus, spiced up with animation and dialogue from the movie.