Dir.: Philip Kaufman
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Caine and Billie Whitelaw
Hurting others for personal pleasure has been around since the dawn of the human species, but it wasn’t given a formal name until the affluent and salacious nobleman the Marquis de Sade strode on the scene and gave the practice the formal term ‘Sadism’. De Sade was a man bent on the libertine life but was also an observer of the hypocrisy others labored under and made it his mission to mock it. Quills is not a biographical account of the man himself (since it takes place during the last 10 years of the man’s life on this Earth and never let truth get in the way of a good yarn The Biz says), but of the prominent themes found in his work- sexuality, censorship, piety, art and mental illness. When you think about it, what other explanation do we have for those who go out of their way to cause harm to other people, especially if it consists of impeding their right to express themselves freely? The principal actors do justice to the original screenplay (with a particularly deliciously and deviously libidinous turn by Rush who plays the character like a rock star banged up in the Ritz Carlton) adapted from the stage play written by Doug Wright, backed up by sumptuous production design, amazing costumes and a certain insanity that lays bare the very things de Sade wrote about. Although the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror was a prevalent threat, even the guillotine can’t truly extinguish the human drive of desire.