"Who doesn't dream of satisfying every spasm of lust?"
Review by Ross Anthony

Paris seventeen ninety-four, a criminally insane man scribbles out barely pornographic, cheap, lust novels masked with poetic sounding prose. Aided by a chambermaid at the asylum, the books make print with copies selling faster than prostitution.

The film begins with a very nicely filmed execution scene and a bloodthirsty observation, "How quickly pleasure is taken from one and given to others." The sex-guilty maiden is fitted to the guillotine as the townsfolk enjoy the festivities.

Soon the crazy Count demands a warmer form of payment from the maid (Kate Winslet), "A kiss a page!"

Winslet coyly replies, "May I blow them or must I administer them?" She then asks if there's room for negotiation, to which the Rush smugly expounds, "The price is every bit as firm as I am."

It's a festival of snobbish, yet still plainly sophomoric puns. Though, I chuckled a few times, these were rarely due to the double entendres.

Surprisingly and inappropriately, a serious film erupts from between the buttocks of this Shakespearean-like farce. The Abby in charge of the Asylum and the crazy Count debate human nature "To eat, sh*t, f*ck," the Count insists. Countering the Count, the Abby offers, "To fall in love."

But the staid half of the production relies too heavily on vanity as a motivating force for every turn, mudballing the film into a mucky progression of farcical twists that never seems to stop rolling. The film itself becomes like the Terminator. Seeming ending after seeming ending, it just won't die.

Rumor had it that this is a sexy picture. Eek, about as sexy as necrophilia. The lewd fable proves an inhospitable host for the more meaty conflict between priest and pervert. "Have you no faith in your own mission?" Rush bitingly asks the Abby, ... a great poke toward a subplot that unfortunately drowns in the muddle.

Though the performances are fair and the costuming & sets very nice; these characters have no depth. All but Rush's are mere whims of the author, vehicles for pointless plot twists. Simply stated, the film is a cheap novel itself with an insulting attempt at a moral stapled on at its end. I'm not appalled by the vulgarity ... I'm appalled by the lack of entertainment.

  • Quills. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Malahide, Amelia Warner, Jane Menelaus, Stephen Moyer.
  • Directed by Philip Kaufman.
  • Written by Doug Wright (based on his play).
  • Produced by Julia Chasman, Nick Wechsler, Peter Kaufman at Industry Ent/A Walrus & Assoc/ Hollywood Partners/ Fox Searchlight.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:56:31 PDT