A very English film although it is of and about French society in the late nineteenth century, the era of Impressionism. Visually it is very beautiful with lovely settings and costumes. Colette, a country girl, soon discovers when she marries Willy that life is very different in Paris. Willy, impresario and womaniser, spends money before it is his and is therefore often in debt. Their life together is a constant battle of wills. The books Willy demands Colette to write are an instant success, all published under his name; he refuses to acknowledge her as the author. She, however, has a strong character too and follows her own path performing in the music halls. Finally Willy, an inveterate gambler, recklessly sells off the rights to the Colette books and Colette refuses to ever write for him again. She leaves him and spends the rest of her life with Missy, her lesbian lover. An appropriate film for the eve of International Women's Day.
Congratulations to Karen on her transformation into a very handsome Missy; her suit and crisp white blouse, together with the pink cigarette in the silver box was perfection.
Three thought provoking short films preceded the main feature. Yvonne Dowlen, a ninety year old ice skating champion, was inspirational. Despite her age, health problems and walking difficulties, quite remarkably she moved easily and gracefully on the ice rink. "I just let life happen", she said. "I like waking up in the morning, I have another day." The next film was entitled 'Lay num' which we quickly understood to mean lemon. A beautifully animated film about the fragility of life in a middle eastern war zone. One girl planted lemon seeds in her makeshift greenhouse and distributed the seedlings around the town, giving the recipients a tiny touch of normality. It was very moving. Finally Finding Freedom in which a girl strapped in a specially adapted wheelchair was able to dive underwater and explore at will, and on her own, the flora and fauna of a reef.
The discussion began with the short films and we agreed they were inspiring. Not everyone was comfortable watching the skater as it was very evident she was old, but we were not voyeurs as she still entered competitions in her latter years, and she still had a grace and a certain elegance in her performance. Everyone was moved by the story of the Lemon, it was heart rending, but also showed the resilience of human beings. Imagining the freedom the girl must have felt diving in her wheelchair was uplifting, although not all of us quite believed it had taken place and was perhaps an example of Photoshop manipulation. The main film had only one of us in disagreement, finding it not to his taste.