Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Quills (2000)


- Paris 1794: one the most repulsive tales told on screen - and no, unlike how it is portrayed in this film, it is not a good thing. Quills (2000) is the nasty story of the truly abhorrent Marquis de Sade and his slip into complete madness when he is unable to write his pathetic and disgusting filth. One of those sickening films that makes you frustrated and cynical about the entire world, I hated every aspect of Quills.

Now, the four main actors give good performances in principle - Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, and Michael Caine are all believable in their roles and there is not a weak moment from any of them. Also, the costumes and set-decoration are also well done. However, four good performances and nice window dressing are not going to leave much of an impact on a wretched, disgusting decomposing carcass of a movie.

Although the film is set in the past, it is easy to see what it is trying to do - take the same questions posed in late 18th early & 19th century France and position it in our day and age. Quills is not subtle in its presentation of anything but the film is especially not subtle with its message. Yes, yes, I get it: freedom of expression, love, art, withholding art can drive you insane, blah blah blah - YAY ART! Now, I agree with the freedom of expression and art - life is not the same without art. However, the Marquis de Sade's story is not the right lens on which to get this message across and the filmmakers do it in an unpleasing and insulting way.

The Marquis de Sade's writings are arguably art in the first place. Writing about sex for pages and pages is art? In technical terms it is in that something is created out of nothing through words, but in logical terms it is not art, it's smut. Those who did not like the Marquis de Sade's writing back in the day, Napoleon Bonaparte being one of them, had him committed to an insane asylum and took everything he could possibly use to write his ideas down. Ah yes, I suppose that people who do not approve of The Marquis de Sade's 18th century version of Ron Jeremy films or any other forms of erotic "art" are a bunch of Napoleons or modern day versions of one? They wish.

As if that were not enough, Quills has more to say. Without batting an eye, the film questions whether the horrid actions inspired and carried out by people after hearing the Marquis de Sade's words are taking the words at their face value, or just misusing them. However, there is no doubt that Christianity is causing all sorts of evils, even being the reason that the Marquis de Sade's tongue is cut out. Now wait a minute, where is the questioning of whether or not Christianity was actually being misused by human beings? Oh, how silly of me, this is Hollywood - they would go full-out Nero if it was possible.

With the despicable messages Quills tries to pass on to the viewer, the film's TV look and feel does not help anything out. Let me get this straight, they could budget for Michael Caine but not for a good cinematographer? One detractor in the film is quite funny though. Quills tries to make things look like the Marquis de Sade lead all of France to discover sex, as if Paris pubescents alone had not figured out were all the parts go and the whole nine yards! I of course do not even have to mention to those who have seen the film of the fortune's worth of completely disgusting scenes featured in Quills. I especially would have preferred going my entire life without seeing Geoffrey Rush naked, Geoffrey Rush trying to seduce Joaquin Phoenix, and Geoffrey Rush trying to seduce Joaquin Phoenix while naked.

CBC Rating: 3/10

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