Quills [DVD] 
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DVD Special Features:
Audio commentary by screenwriter Doug Wright
2 featurettes: "Marquis on the Marquee", "Creating Charenton", "Dressing the Part"
Fact and film -- text pages
1.85:1 (widescreen 16:9)
Subtitles: Czech, Danish, Finish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish
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, adapted by Doug Wright from his own stage play and directed by Philip Kaufman. Imprisoned in France's Charenton asylum at the turn of the 18th century, de Sade is a stately court jester in dishevelled finery, and Rush imbues the role with the fierce urgency of a writer whose sexual fantasies are his sole remaining defence against repression and hypocrisy. Deprived of quill and ink, he writes with wine, then blood, then his own faeces--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 theatre (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, Amazon.com
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Top Customer Reviews
The dialogue is literate and elegant and the acting is first-rate. Rush is dazzlingly flamboyant, Winslet is winsome and sweet, Phoenix is noble and earnest, and Caine is despicably cruel. The story and the brutal way it is presented, however, were repellant to me, and I found it difficult to watch. If cruelty offends you, you probably won't like "Quills."
Sade's moral character, first of all, is not the issue - discussions of crime and punishment seem to attract morons all too eager to assume the job of hangman. The actual effects of imprisonment are not to the matter, in fact it is quite clear that the Abbee's method of keeping Sade in comfort and allowing him to appease his psychological demons by writing whatever he likes is working beautifully and, even if the stories are being published, they are doing no harm - except to the sensibilities of the uptight and the controlling, starting with Napoleon Ron Cook - not the first time he played that part! - who sends the torturing maniac, Royer-Collard to sort out the Marquis.
The cant of 'Rude Pictures Cause Crime' is familiar and pernicious and, in this case, immaterial; Royer-Collard's reason for persecuting Sade with censorship and torture is revenge, pure and simple; Sade, mad pervert though he may be, is perfectly equipped to discern Collard's predatory and abusive marriage to the 'barely sixteen' Simone, and then to lampoon it as a pornographic farce.
And here's the rub - Sade has written some highly questionable porn, but he hasn't actually done anybody any *harm*; Collard, conversely tortures his patients, and rapes and imprisons his very young wife. Sade is a mere pornographer; Collard could very easily be one of his creations.Read more ›
GEOFFREY RUSH ("Shine", "House on Haunted Hill", "Les Misérables, and some more) woes, frightens, shocks and seduces you with his absolutly amazing portrayl as the eccentric, seductive Marquis de Sade. Never has an actor excelled like this, and maybe this is his finest hour.
KATE WINSLET ("Titantic") also amazes with her stunning performance as Madeline, the washerwoman who befriends the Marquis and smuggles his erotic fiction from the aslyum.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX ("Gladiator") is equally stunning with his portral of the Abbé Coulmier, the priest who tries to reform the Marquis.
MICHAEL CAINE is amazing in his part of Dr. Antoine Royer-Collard -- the doctor who's harsh methods and style make the Marquis look sane. He excells as the doctor, sent by the King, to "silence" the Marquis' writing.
"Quills" is an amazingly written tale about censorship. The film is sexy, funny and tragic at the same time. This film is one to watch.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Started off ok, but it felt it got a bit extreme towards the end.Published 6 months ago by Apolloman
Great film and a true story. For adult viewing only and will make you laugh in places.Published 7 months ago by Mrs Veronica H Nolan