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Quills (2000) - Philip Kaufman

Related: American cinema - Philip Kaufman - Marquis de Sade - 2000 films

Quills (2000) - Philip Kaufman
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“Both [Quills and Marquis] get inside de Sade’s urge to write no matter what, using sheets and his own blood, although Marquis makes far less melodramatic fuss about the frustrated creative urge than Quills does.” --Richard Scheib, 2001


Quills is a 2000 film based on a play that was inspired by the life and work of the Marquis de Sade. The movie was adapted by Doug Wright from his play, and was directed by Philip Kaufman. It stars Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis, Joaquin Phoenix as the Abbé, and Michael Caine as Dr. Royer-Collard.

Kate Winslet also starred as the chambermaid Madeleine. According to Wright, it was her interest in the role, immediately following the success of Titanic, which led to the film's production.

Key smaller roles in the film are played by Billie Whitelaw as Madame LeClerc, Amelia Warner as Royer-Collard's child bride and Stephen Marcus as the inmate Bouchon, whose actions are key to scenes throughout the film. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quills [Dec 2005]

Amazon review

With bedroom eyes and the mischievous smirk of an insatiable roué, Geoffrey Rush is a perfect choice to play the Marquis de Sade in Quills, directed by Philip Kaufman and adapted by Doug Wright from his own stage play. Imprisoned in France's Charenton asylum at the turn of the 18th century, de Sade is a stately court jester in disheveled finery, and Rush imbues the role with the fierce urgency of a writer whose sexual fantasies are his sole remaining defense against repression and hypocrisy. Deprived of quill and ink, he writes with wine, then blood, then his own feces--a descent into madness or an impassioned refusal to be silenced? Quills embraces freedom of expression ("such beauty, such abomination," as one character notes) while affirming that all freedoms have a price.

De Sade smuggles manuscripts out of Charenton with help from Madeleine (Kate Winslet), a virginal laundress who relishes de Sade's scandalous prose--a divine irony since she was taught to read by asylum abbé Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), whose desire for Madeleine is suppressed by Catholic propriety. The delicate dynamic of this trio is shattered by the arrival of Royer-Collard (Michael Caine, appearing somewhat comatose), a righteous hypocrite appointed to silence de Sade once and for all. It's all very engrossing as a piece of theater (which it still is, despite Kaufman's elegant filming), and although Wright's literate dialogue limits de Sade to zesty ripostes and sneering perversity, Rush's intensity ensures that the marquis's plight is no laughing matter. Quills has a point, makes it without condescension, and knows the difference between madness and passion. --Jeff Shannon

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