Quills (2000)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Biopic [feature], Erotic Drama  |   Release Date - Nov 22, 2000 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - Germany, United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Hastings

Philip Kaufman's taut, economical dramatization of the latter years of the Marquis de Sade may sacrifice historical accuracy in the name of high entertainment, but makes for essential viewing nonetheless, thanks in large part to the bold, uncompromising work of lead Geoffrey Rush. All of Rush's film work to date seems to inform his rendering of de Sade: the mania, desperation, and dogged conviction he displayed (with varying degrees of success) in films such as Shine (1996), Children of the Revolution (1996), and Elizabeth (1998) are all in perfect balance here. In a return to form after 1993's dismal Rising Sun, Kaufman seems determined to transcend the stage origins of Doug Wright's screenplay, employing cunning camerawork, convincingly decrepit locales, and crisp editing in order to keep the film's forward momentum from sagging. Still, packed as it is with clever turns of phrase and convenient plot developments, Quills could never be mistaken for a loose, realistic take on the vilified author's life (those in search of a more factual take on the Marquis should look to the 1966 film version of Peter Weiss's play Marat/Sade). Rather, Quills provides a juicy, almost old-fashioned moviegoing experience -- albeit with all the lurid sex, masochism, and graphic feces afforded by this century's censors.