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Quills (2000)
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Review Date: December 27, 2000
Director: Philip Kaufman
Writer: Doug Wright
Producers: M. Huffam, J. Chasman, N. Wechsler, P. Kaufman
Actors:
Geoffrey Rush as Marquis de Sade
Joaquin Phoenix as Abbé de Coulmie
Kate Winslet as Madeleine
Plot:
The Marquis de Sade loves to write. He doesn't write because he is forced to, he writes because he wants to! He just can't help himself. Unfortunately, the smutty things that he loves to write about simply do not fit into society, as it was back in 1792, so the Marquis is imprisoned and placed inside an insane asylum. But give the man a quill and he shall write and write he does, passing his writings off to an interested laundry lady, who in turn, gets them to his publisher. It isn't long before others find out about his shenanigans and try as they might, to stop the Marquis from composing further indecent manuscripts.
Critique:
Wow, what a great story. A high-spirited, enjoyable and fascinating yarn, every which way and around. I personally didn't know squat about this tale or the Marquis de Sade before watching this flick, and let me tell you, I was quite taken by it all. I'm also not generally interested in films dealing with history and such, but this picture wasn't really about that. This movie is about love, it's about passion, it's about doing what you have to do no matter what society or the morality barometer of the day is prescribing. And oh yes, this movie is very sexual, although not in a degrading and explicit manner. In fact, despite the Marquis' words being extremely volatile and somewhat vulgar (for those days), I think the film itself managed to portray the words and their actions within, in a very professional and cinematic fashion. What that means is that you shouldn't expect an all-out orgy to break out every three seconds! Although you do get a peek at both Rush's wee-wee and Winslet's winslets near the end of the film. But forget the smut, forget the period in which this film is based and forget the umpteenth time that you are going to see Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet in a period piece. The story of this film is a great one.

The characters are well-developed, they have feelings, they are trying their best to do what is right at that time, but also attempting to contain some of the ravenous passions whirling around within them. I think we could all relate to that, no matter what time period we are living in. The actors are also extremely genuine across the board. Reservations should be made for both Rush and Phoenix at the Academy Awards at the end of this year because they both mold great, fervent characters, inside a period of excessive restraint. Winslet is also wonderful as the innocent girl who is thrilled to be a part of the Marquis' wicked words, despite not partaking in any their actions herself. Caine is Caine, but his character is solid and required for the story to gel as it does. But it's the richness of this story that'll either grab or it won't. I was snatched completely, especially since I too love to write, and the various elements intertwined within the basic outline of this film and the unpredictability of it all, just rocked me hard. Good show to all involved.

Now if you're reading this and wondering how any of this has any bearing whatsoever on your own life, well, just think of this. Is there something or someone who is preventing you from "being all that you can be" in your own life? Is there something within you that empowers you so, but it is something that you are afraid to let slip out, for fear of what the outside world would think or do? Well, see this movie and witness the extreme, and I do mean extreme, measures that one man takes to allow his passion the opportunity to flow freely. By God, if this ol' boy could overpower the barbaric acts of those days, just so that he could release a few of his words onto our book shelves, let's hope that some of his fury gives us, that little extra drive needed to follow our own dreams, no matter how many obstacles lay before them. PS: Can you tell that this film went a little deeper for me? Makes me feel like writing another screenplay...yee-haw!!
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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