This was not a good film.
The film makes a home in your brain and the only cure is to see it again.
One of the worst ways to make a cult movie is to set out to make a cult movie.
the story of Marquis de Sade is known. as ball of myths and suppositions and rumors. as result of lecture, in the late childhood, of his writings. the film do not propose a portrait of him. but the web who defines and support his eccentricity. Quills remains always a surprise for the viewer. for its status of mechanism of a clock. because the performances of each actor becomes part of fascinating game of a delicate work of clock. each scene becomes key for discover the truth behind appearances. the idealism against the right public image. the love and the manipulation. the fear and its use for build the cage. the mistakes. the duel between Marquis and Royer-Collard represents the axis of a story about values and risks to assume the words. and, as each great film, Quills has the precious gift to say a story of today. as a parable, maybe. as demonstration, surely. this is the detail who does it not a good film but almost an experience.
The movie is by no means historically accurate, but if you're willing to look past that and focus on the undergoing theme, philosophy and above all entertainment value then you'll have a laugh you won't soon forget. Without spoiling anything, the movie deals with our primate sexuality, and mixes it with the unique unleashed id of various personas and how it stands in contrast to social norms and society. It feels so liberating when it is done in such a witty and funny provocative way. To quote Rush from the movie, it's about "eternal truths". Sure, if you're a chaste, celibate or asexual you won't find much deeper value in this movie, though the circumstantial humour really does add some sort of icing on the cake.Now for the bad part. The movie ends unnecessarily gruesomely and over-dramatized and knowingly altering a real-life death of a person in such a way is a much different thing than making a lot of stuff up about the rest of the person's life. If we are to be libertines, who cares if it's rude, though. But I'm afraid it does still spoil the whole premise and legacy of the movie, leaving only behind the very enjoyable experience prior to this.
This film is a valiant effort to tell a story about a profoundly contemptible human being. It features a fine performance from Geoffrey Rush and boatloads of provocative, controversial moments, but the movie founders on its failed efforts to makes excuses for the horrible nature of its main character.Set in an asylum during Napoleonic France, Quills tells the last bit of the life story of the Marquis De Sade (Geoffrey Rush), the legendarily perverse and deviant writer. He's been locked up in the asylum to try and contain his monstrous imagination, yet he continues to smuggle out new works of blasphemy and pornography with the help of a chamber maid named Madeleine (Kate Winslet). The head of the asylum, a priest named Coulmier (Joanquin Phoenix), is blissfully unaware of De Sade's continued writing until Napoleon himself sends the harsh and unbending Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to put a stop to De Sade's activities. Royer-Collard presses hard on Coulmier to muzzle De Sade, which results in an increasingly desperate battle of wills between the holy man and the infamous smut-wallower.There are a lot of good things about Quills. It has a lot of sharply written dialog and compelling scenes performed by a talented cast. Geoffrey Rush is quite bold and charismatic as De Sade, but that is the character that the script crashes into and never quite gets around. The Marquis De Sade was, by pretty much any standard, a vile and contemptible human being. He's really not the equivalent of a modern-day pornographer because, not only did his writing dwell on grotesque violence as much as sexual depravity, but De Sade himself engaged in acts that would be considered awful crimes both in his day and ours.De Sade was something like a cultural terrorist and that's not much of an overstatement. If you're going to portray De Sade as some sort of anti-hero or a tragic figure, you need to provide some greater justification for his abominable behavior. His degeneracy needs to be in pursuit of a higher value like truth or freedom. As Quills presents him, De Sade is pretty much a degenerate for the sake of degeneracy. That makes it hard to feel any empathy for him and his situation, no matter how difficult and extreme that situation becomes. The story does suggest his obsession with perversion was a reaction to what De Sade saw during the Terror of the French Revolution. That's an excuse, though, not a justification.Seemingly to compensate for its inability to grapple with its main character, Quills offers up not one but two subplots. One is about the forbidden attraction between priest Coulmier and Madeleine, which does fold back into the struggle between Coulmier and De Sade. The other is about Royer-Collard and his young bride Simone (Amelia Wainer), which is fairly superfluous to the story. It could be completely removed from the film and nothing of importance would be lost. Neither subplot stands on its own and it feels like they were woven into the script because writer Doug Wright didn't know what else he could do with his main character.There's a moderate amount of profanity, nudity and other things of a prurient nature in this film, though not to the excessive amounts that would do justice to the Marquis De Sade. This movie is also, in almost all respects, a well-executed bit of filmmaking. If you go into it thinking already believing there's something worthwhile about De Sade and his lifestyle, you'll probably enjoy Quills. If you're mostly ignorant or have a negative view of the Marquis, you won't find anything here that will enlighten or change your mind.
Place is early 19th century France, a handsome but cold place of elegance, squalor and violence, and "witty" porn writer Marquis De Sade (Geoffrey Rush) has sent to Charenton asylum, albeit for political reasons rather than insanity (at least in real life). Asylum is led by kind Catholic priest (Joaquin Phoenix as rather sympathetic character who was apparently very short and hunchbacked in real life) and he has scandalous notion that mentally ill do not need torture. Gasp! Where is this world going to, if filthy perverts cannot torture insane? Soon, De Sade's writings - which later inspired such celluloid filth than Salo - are somehow "liberating" whole France to orgy and enraging Napoleon, when laundry maid is carrying the smut out, turning Marquis as trashy bestsellerist in the vein of Stephen King. Michael Caine has chilling role of outwardly respectable but sleazy pervert, who gets his kick by torturing insane and raping his young porn-reading wife, and Rush does not physically resemble De Sade, albeit complaints seems not come from only desire to historical accuracy but mucky morality worthy of De Sade: being filthy scatological perv and sadist, totally sane but locked in asylum, is somehow better if the perpetrator is not short and fat. Why his character openly courts danger and torture when he gets possibility to keep his cushy lifestyle, if he just does not publish his stories and endanger anyone, is something I cannot fathom. More entertaining than horribly wooden Sade (2000), but screenwriter Doug Wright who has adapted his own play lets historical inaccuracies gallop horribly wild, especially in the tragic - and frankly heavyhanded - ending.