Quills

Quills

Quills is a 2000 period film directed by Philip Kaufman and adapted from the Obie award-winning play by Doug Wright, who also wrote the original screenplay. Inspired by the life and work of the Marquis de Sade, Quills re-imagines the last years of the Marquis’ incarceration in the insane asylum at Charenton. Quills is a delightfully unsettling account of the demise of the Marquis de Sade and those he brings down with him. The film presents viewers with all the evidence they need to identify the illusions of society’s separation of “good” from “evil” and “moralists” from “sinners”. A dark look at an insane erotic  writer named Marquis De Sade (Rush) and his stay an asylum run by religious priest Abbe Du Coulmier (Phoenix).  While there he befriends a laundrette named Madeleine ( Kate Winslet). The Marquis dips into the extensive world of the forbidden sexual taboos of the 18th and 19th centuries, writing extensively about them without a care in the world for decorum. There is a curious relationship between the Marquis and a physician named  Royer-Collard, played by Michael Caine, who is assigned to prevent him from writing anymore. Geoffrey Rush is hilariously charismatic as The Marquis de Sade, a man who lives by glorifying the raunchiest sex acts he can imagine, but is at a loss when he finds himself falling in love.  Rush goes to all necessary lengths and doesn’t hold back whatsoever in his brilliant portrayal. Kate Winslet is charmingly enchanting as Medeleine LeClerc, a woman who was raised to be proper and distinguished and is able to let out her darker side through The Marquis’ writing.  Joaquin Phoenix is convincing in his portrayal of The Abbe du Coulmier, a man of God who is forced to confront his own demons of wrath and sexual desire constantly throughout the picture. Caine does a brilliant job of making the audience become absolutely disgusted by every one of his actions. In terms of art direction, costume design and cinematography, the filmmakers do a fantastic job in recreating this strange world of the past. The writing of the film is very good in that the film remains interesting throughout. Kaufman succeeded not only in bringing the spirit of the time but also the essence of the Marquis de Sade to the screen and he did that splendidly.

 

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