Quills (2000)

A movie about the Marquis de Sade? That sounds like a difficult proposition in the best scenario. And yet, here it was pulled off with great results. A sickly and lascivious Marquis de Sade plays the clown in a scenery dominated by Joaquin Phoenix and Kate Winslet.

The plot is inconsequential and irrelevant at best. What we are interested in is the man, and the beauties. The man, it turns out, is mostly frustrated behind bars. A lot of his pornography seems to have been the result more of wishful dreaming than of experience. Still, the Marquis succeeds in projecting himself into our presence even as the mere shadow of himself, until the very end.

The two beauties of the movie, the improbable Abbe du Coulmier and the young worker Kate Winslet, are all obsessed with their role in this ever-changing world, frustrated themselves by a relationship that somehow never has a chance to happen until it turns into necrophilia.

The real revelation of the movie was the grandiose and pompous Michael Caine, I mean Dr. Royer-Collard, sent with the order to shoot de Sade, but finally having mercy on him. For a while, at least.

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