UK Release date: 19th January 2001
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 5th May 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is a film I’ve heard talked about many times over the years and I heard enough to decide it might be worth a look and so it was duly added to ‘The List’. It came up in the listings this week and so I finally got to see this study of The Marquis de Sade. Maybe not quite as fulfilling as I’d expected, but a worthy watch nonetheless. I’ll tell you more after this very brief summary.
The film concentrates on the final years of the notorious Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) in an insane asylum run by The Abbe du Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix). The Marquis is having manuscripts smuggled out with the help of a maid, Madeline (Kate Winslet). These are being published much to the outrage of the establishment and even Napoleon himself. Something must be done and to this end one Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) is dispatched to the asylum to oversee the running of the place. What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse as The Marquis finds ever more cunning ways to outwit the doctor and get his manuscripts out. This cannot last for long and eventually even the good doctor must stoop down to his level in order to get what he wants… But at what cost?
A pretty well made film with some excellent performances, particularly from Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet. It did, however, seem incomplete; there were a couple of threads that didn’t seem to tie up. I was interested in the story of the doctor’s wife and also the wife of the Marquis. Both of these characters came and went without any reference to them again; I found that a little odd. I have never read any of the works of the Marquis de Sade, but having seen this I’m tempted to take a look and see if it’s really as depraved as they say. As for the film, definitely worth a look although I did find it a tad drawn out and a tad too long.
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 7.1/10.
IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 34,133 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 70/100: (Based on 31 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 80/100 (based on 44,744 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Marquis de Sade: Conversation, like certain portions of the anatomy, always runs more smoothly when lubricated.
Coulmier: It's nothing but an encyclopedia of perversions. One man killed his wife after reading them.
Marquis de Sade: It's a fiction, not a moral treatise.
Renee Pelagie: Desperation has driven me past etiquette, all the way to frenzy.
Dr. Royer-Collard: My schedule is not subject to the whim of lunatics.
Renee Pelagie: I beg to differ, you work in a madhouse. Your every waking moment is governed by the insane.
Coulmier: But why must you indulge in his pornography?
Madeleine: It's a hard days' wages slaving away for madmen, what I've seen in life - it takes a lot to hold my interest.
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/quills/