Colette tells the story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley), a woman in early 20th century Paris who marries the writer of a series of popular books. Unable to keep up with demand and creatively stifled, Willy (Dominic West) convinces his wife to pitch in and write a new novel.
When she does and it becomes the best-selling of the series it creates tension in the marriage. Colette wants to enjoy the recognition that is rightfully hers – as well as the financial windfall that results – but Willy wants to continue as the public face of the operation. She chafes under that arrangement in various ways, including a flirtatious affair with a socialite woman in their circle of friends.
“History is about to change” we’re told on the poster, which features a huge version of Knightly’s face hanging over a Victorian London skyline. That establishes the character and setting, but for some reason the whole thing has been washed in pinks and oranges to make it more colorful. That doesn’t seem to serve any particular purpose, though, so it comes off as odd and misplaced.
When her successful writer husband experiences a bit of a dry spell, we see in the trailer, he turns to his wife Colette to ghostwrite the next novel in a popular series. Her contribution, published under his name, becomes a huge and unexpected hit, especially with young women. Not only are people buying the book but it spawns all kind of tie-in products as well. She’s reluctant to write more, especially considering Willy is jealous of her attraction to another woman.
Online and Social
The official website created by Bleecker Street has all the usual material the studio offers. Scroll down the page and you’ll see the trailer and other videos, a story synopsis, cast photos and a mix of original and curated content that offers background on the real Colette as well as the filmmakers. There don’t seem to be any unique social profiles for the movie, just support offered on the studio’s brand pages.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve seen.
Media and Publicity
Ahead of the movie’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival it got a nice Variety cover story focused around an interview with Knightly where she talked about not just the film and its story but also culture, sexism, why she rejects most movies set in the modern day and much more. To call it “wide-ranging” would be an understatement, though she does nicely include comments on the character she plays and the connection the story has to our current times. Bleecker Street and 30 West went in together in one of the first big deals of the festival to acquire U.S. and other rights to the film.
The movie was announced as one of those screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Around that time a featurette was released that had Knightley and others talking about the real Colette and how she was the actual creative force behind a massively popular book, going on to create a new genre and audience at an influential time.
Knightly and director Wash Westmoreland were interviewed during Toronto about powerful women on film and this story in particular. Knightly also spoke about her hope that the outpouring of support for female filmmakers creates an actual demand in the marketplace for them. Another interview with Westmoreland had him talking about how queer people throughout history deserve to have the stories of their society contributions told just as much as anyone else.
A clip released in mid-September featured the pivotal moment where Colette is enlisted as a writer for her husband’s work. Additional clips showed Colette being praised in Paris and dealing with the aftermath of a hostile audience.
That poster is kind of odd, coming off like a psychedelic trip of an image than something for a period drama about gender roles. That being said, the rest of the campaign hits that point strongly. The trailer is pretty strong, but the message really comes through in the press and publicity, where Knightly and Westmoreland are able to share more background and explanation of what they’ve trying to do here, making a strong case for this being a timely story of a woman refusing to be shut out from success by an overbearing man.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
More from star Keira Knightly about how aspects of the film’s story reflect her own struggles with self-image and so on.
Costume designer Andrea Flesch is profiled about the movie’s distinctive looks and outfits.
A second trailer came out post-release that skipped some of the setup and got right to Colette’s creation of the novel and the commercialization of it by her husband while she was left on the sidelines. It also embraces the queer elements of the story and some characters more fully than other elements of the earlier campaign.
The studio has continued to run a pretty widespread online ad campaign using the key art from the poster. And new TV spots like this have come out to try and get people out for the movie.