Sunday, September 4, 2016


Movie Name: Quills
Year of Release: 2000
Director: Philip Kaufman
Stars: Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Malahide, Amelia Warner, Stephen Moyer, Michael Jenn, Stephen Marcus, Jane Menelaus
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Director Philip Kaufman is part of the Movie Brats/New Hollywood which came into prominence during the late 60s and became stalwarts during the 70s, when names such as George Lucas, Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Terrence Malick, Woody Allen and Mike Nichols became the legends they are today. Kaufman has had a much more modest career, with 13 features directed as of this year. "Quills" which opened to good reviews in 2000, followed his unexpected "Rising Sun" which had premiered in 1993, to not such good reviews (and was an instantly forgettable Michael Crichton adaptation). The film is an adaptation of the play by Doug Wright, and follows the final years of the life of the Marquis de Sade in 18th Century France, when he is imprisoned at an insane asylum. While at the asylum the Marquis manages to befriend the young Abbe de Coulmier, who runs the institution, and he gets his writings to the public through a young laundress named Madeline (whom the Abbe secretly pines for). His writings however generate a tremendous amount of attention, including that of the Emperor, who orders Dr. Royer-Collard, to silence the Marquis permanently.
"Quills" is a very interesting film, that continues to showcase Philip Kaufman's fascination with literature and authors (he also directed "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", "Henry and June" and "Hemingway and Gellhorn"). The film is also a powerful statement about censorship, and how established power tries to silence dissonant and unique voices that they consider morally wrong or threaten status quo. "Quills" manages to successfully render all of these ideas, while simultaneously creating a forbidden romance between two of its main characters, which makes the film also humane, and not simply a pamphlet for freedom of speech. The actors in the lead roles are fantastic, with Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine all showcasing great performances. A very good film from an underrated director.