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"QUILLS"
(2000) (Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Heavy Extreme Heavy Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Mild Heavy None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Minor Mild Moderate Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: The infamous Marquis de Sade goes to any extreme to continue telling his sordid and sexually charged stories while imprisoned in a late 18th century mental asylum.
PLOT:
It's the late 18th century and the infamous French author, the Marquis de Sade (GEOFFREY RUSH), is imprisoned in a mental asylum overseen by Abbé Coulmier (JOAQUIN PHOENIX), a priest who's befriended the Marquis and extended him certain privileges not afforded to the other inmates, who include Cleante (MICHAEL JENN), who believes himself to be a bird; Pitou (DANNY BABINGTON) who grooms his imaginary locks; Dauphin (GEORGE YIASOUMI), a pyromaniac; and Bouchon (STEPHEN MARCUS), a hulking fellow who finds the Marquis' work highly arousing.

Despite his incarceration and isolation from his wife, Renee Pelagie (JANE MENELAUS), the Marquis continues to write and publish his erotic and sadistic works, thanks to the help of Madeleine LeClerc (KATE WINSLET), a virginal laundress who works with her mother (BILLIE WHITELAW), and enjoys the Marquis' work and helps smuggle it out of the asylum. His latest effort, "Justine," has made its way to Napoleon's attention and the emperor wants all copies of it burned and the author shot.

His followers don't do that, but they do send Dr. Royer-Collard (MICHAEL CAINE), a practitioner of torture-based rehabilitation, to perform his magic on the Marquis. Collecting the young bride, Simone (AMELIA WARNER), promised to him that he's never met, the doctor arrives at the asylum prepared to observe the Marquis before deciding what approach to take in attempting to cure him.

As Royer-Collard introduces his wife to the bedroom duties of marriage and gets a young architect, Prouix (STEPHEN MOYER), to refurbish a dilapidated estate for them, the Marquis stages a farce based on the rumors of their sex life. Despite Coulmier's objections that the theater and other literary efforts are therapeutic for the inmates, Royer-Collard orders them to be suspended.

Deprived of his ink and quills, the Marquis then sets out to continue writing, becoming ever more resourceful the more he's deprived of writing utensils as well as the belongings from his cell. From that point on, and as Madeleine gets into trouble for her relationship with the author when Charlotte (ELIZABETH BERRINGTON), a prim maid, turns her in, the Marquis continues to tell his erotic and sadistic tales any way he can, much to the dismay of both Coulmier and Royer-Collard.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
The sexual angle (as related to the Marquis de Sade) might be enticing to some curious teens, while those who are fans of anyone in the cast might want to see it as well. Overall, however, it probably won't be very enticing to most kids.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong sexual content including dialogue, violence and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • GEOFFREY RUSH plays the Marquis de Sade, a novelist who continues to write his erotic and sadistic works despite being imprisoned in a mental asylum and the requests/demands from those in charge of him to stop doing so.
  • KATE WINSLET plays a virginal laundress who's fascinated with the Marquis and his works, and helps smuggle them out of the asylum to be published.
  • JOAQUIN PHOENIX plays the priest who oversees the asylum and finds himself torn between his religious & administrative duties and his friendship with the marquis and his attraction to Madeleine.
  • MICHAEL CAINE plays a "doctor' who specializes in using torture as a means of reform and is determined to quell the Marquis' writing and behavior. He also expects his wife to submit to him sexually and forces himself on her.
  • AMELIA WARNER plays his new bride who detests her forced marriage to him, but finds the Marquis' work - and a young and handsome architect - arousing her passions. She eventually has an affair with the latter.
  • BILLIE WHITELAW plays Madeleine's blind mother, who's also a laundress.
  • JANE MENELAUS plays the estranged wife of the Marquis who can't stand what his reputation has done to hers.
  • STEPHEN MOYER plays the young architect who steals Simone's heart and has an affair with her.
  • GEORGE YIASOUMI plays another asylum inmate who's a pyromaniac.
  • STEPHEN MARCUS plays a brutish inmate whose arousal from the Marquis' work has him attack Madeleine several times.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Since the film is about the Marquis de Sade and his sexually charged literary work, it's not surprising that an extreme amount of sexually related material is present. Among that are many sexual/erotic/sadistic passages (read aloud) from the Marquis' work (including references to homosexuality and necrophilia), while we see various sexually related objects and knickknacks in the Marquis' cell.

    Various sexual encounters are seen (to varying degrees of explicitness), including intercourse (consensual, forced and a three-way encounter), oral sex, general groping, masturbation and a theatrical farce involving simulated intercourse and oral sex. Included in some of those moments, as well as non-sexual ones, are varying degrees of nudity (full frontal of both sexes, bare breasts and bare butts). Ample amounts of cleavage are otherwise present in other scenes.

    Profanity consists of at least 10 "f" words, along with other expletives and a few colorful phrases. Violence includes a few deaths (one off-screen, another via a guillotine), a whipping/flogging, an attempted rape, a man having his tongue cut out as punishment, other forms of period torture (including repeatedly dunking a person's head underwater) and other non-lethal acts.

    Some of those scenes have bloody results (including the sight of many severed heads in one and another with bloody/swollen whip marks on a woman's back), while they and others may be unsettling, suspenseful or even potentially frightening to some viewers. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while some characters drink.

    Due to the degree of some of the material included in this film, we recommend that you more closely examine our detailed content listings should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who wishes to see it.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Some people have wine next to them as they listen to Madeleine read a story.
  • The Marquis has some wine with Coulmier.
  • The Marquis has wine with dinner.
  • The Marquis has wine again, and then uses that wine as ink to write his latest work.
  • Royer-Collard has wine and then later has more.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see some bloody cuts on a person's hands.
  • We see several severed and somewhat bloody heads in a basket at the bottom of a guillotine (as well as some blood running along the blade that drips down onto a woman's face). When another person is beheaded, we see more blood.
  • We see some burn scars on a patient's face.
  • As the camera passes by what's presumably the asylum's hospital, we see what looks like a bloody stump where a person's leg has been amputated.
  • We see what looks like old blood stains on a staircase.
  • We see a large, iron-shaped burn mark on a man's face.
  • The Marquis purposefully breaks the mirror in his cell, and then cuts his finger with a shard, resulting in some blood. We then see that he's used his own blood to write more passages on his clothing.
  • Madeleine is flogged for working with the Marquis and we see huge, bloody welts and cuts on her back. We later see them again as they're treated.
  • We see some blood on some papers as well as on an inmate who's just murdered someone. We then see some bloody water in a large washing vat and then see a woman's body under the water (with some bloody cuts on the dead woman's chest).
  • We see a man sharpening a knife that's to be used to cut out a patient's tongue (as punishment). While the camera pans away before we see the actual cutting, we do hear the sound of both the cutting and the man screaming. Later, we see the severed tongue in a jar.
  • We briefly see a dead woman's body (complete with cuts on her chest) in a brief fantasy segment that also includes blood pouring from various statues' eyes.
  • We see that the Marquis has used his own feces to write passages on his cell wall.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The Marquis writes lewd, sordid and pornographic novels and material (a big no-no for the time) and continues to do so when ordered not to. In addition, he mocks or ridicules the Bible, while also spitting on it and then throwing it against his cell, and is disrespectful to his wife.
  • Madeleine smuggles the Marquis' writing out the asylum to another person who takes it to the publishers.
  • There's talk that at the age of sixteen the Marquis violated a girl with a crucifix.
  • Despite his holier than thou stance, Royer-Collard is corrupt (using the Marquis' money - that his wife donated to the asylum - to refurbish his own house) and forcing sex on his new bride, telling her it's her wifely duty. He also plans to keep her locked in her room at times. We later see that he's using the inmates to publish the Marquis' works and thus make money for himself.
  • Simone and Prouix have an affair.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • A woman's neck is placed into a guillotine and after a few moments, the blade drops and she's beheaded.
  • Madeleine cautiously makes her way through the Marquis' large cell, unaware of his location (all while some ominous/suspenseful music plays).
  • Aroused from a sexual farce the Marquis has staged, a large and brutish inmate grabs Madeleine from behind, pulls up her dress and prepares to rape her. In response, she grabs a hot iron and slams it into his face, burning his flesh.
  • While various inmates verbally pass on the Marquis story from one to another, we see one who takes a candle and lights his bed on fire, while another large one (who earlier tried attacking Madeleine), tries to get through a wall to her in the next room. Soon, much of the place is on fire and the inmates are loose and running around.
  • An inmate grabs a woman (and she screams) and we then hear more of her screams as he attacks her (which we don't see).
  • We see a man sharpening a knife that's to be used to cut out a patient's tongue (as punishment). While the camera pans away before we see the actual cutting, we do hear the sound of both the cutting and the man screaming.
  • In what turns out to be a dual fantasy scene, a man goes into a morgue of sorts, pulls the sheer sheet off a dead woman's body (we see the bare breasts), and then licks up her body that doesn't look dead. The woman then opens her eyes and we then see an aerial view of the man between the woman's legs as they have sex (bare butt and movement). The character then suddenly sees himself on top of a dead woman's body.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Whip: Used to whip Madeleine.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "F*ck 'em," "For f*ck's sakes," "Whore," "Freaking" and "Bitch."
  • Simone buys an outlawed copy of the Marquis' work, removes the guts of another book, and then glues the other one inside its cover so that she can read it without being discovered.
  • The Marquis spits on Coulmier.
  • A pyromaniac sets his bed on fire with a candle.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The sudden sound a mirror breaking might startle some viewers.
  • A man suddenly shows up behind Madeleine and grabs her.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful/ominous music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 10 "f" words (3 used sexually as is the term "screw"), 1 "s" word, 1 slang term for male genitals ("p*cker" along with various euphemisms such as "scepter," etc.), 4 asses, 2 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "G-damn" (and "God damn you" as a command) and "Oh dear God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • The Marquis briefly talks about a certain woman's sexual proclivities and that she was granted full immunity to seek pain and pleasure with equal zest. He then goes to say that one day she then found someone just as perverse as she, who was skilled in the art of pain. As we hear this, we see a man's hands running along a woman's face and shoulders (and she's breathing heavy). We then see a masked man pull her top down part of the way (which seems to excite her as does tying her hands behind her back and pulling her hair). We then see, however, that this isn't a sexual scene, but instead a preparation for an execution via the guillotine.
  • Various women, including Madeleine and Simone, show varying amounts of cleavage (sometimes a great deal) throughout the movie in the low-cut, period outfits they wear.
  • A classic statue shows male full frontal nudity, while a classic painting shows women's bare breasts.
  • An official reads a passage from the Marquis' novel, "Justine," that talks about a woman's body that's firm and ripe, and that one morning a bishop placed his hand upon her thigh. The woman then states that she's come to confess her sins and not commit new ones. There's then talk about raising the woman's dress high above her hips exposing her nudity, as well as a rosebud in "the orifice of her dimpled ass." The passage then goes to say that the man took a communion wafer and placed it on "the girl's twitching orifice." It then continues that the bishop "loosened his manhood from beneath his robe…and then with a mighty thrust, drove it into her very entrails."
  • Madeleine reads one of the Marquis' suggestive and sexually charged stories to other commoners (about body parts being as slick as an eel, a man gazing upon a woman's mound, etc.). As she does this, a man has his hand inside a woman's shirt and is caressing her breast, which is arousing her, and we see her hand down at her crotch. When they all end up playfully wrestling in some hay, we see another large male patient masturbating while watching them through a hole in the wall (we don't see his genitals, but do see his hand moving at his crotch and hear related sounds)
  • We see various sexually related "knickknacks" in the Marquis' cell, including one featuring interlocking characters engaged in either rear entry or anal intercourse (Madeleine separates them to reveal one with an erect penis and the other with a hole in it), as well as a large phallus of some sort. The Marquis then tells Madeleine that she's already stolen his heart and another organ south of the equator. He then tells her that she'll have to give him one kiss per page of his latest writing, and she briefly complies as he kisses her on the neck and then the lips (and mentions something about climaxing while we also hear sexual sounds). He then tries feeling her clothed breast but she smacks him.
  • The Marquis talks about some man steering "his vessel into port" of his bride, and then makes some homosexual overtures toward Coulmier.
  • There's talk that at the age of sixteen the Marquis violated a girl with a crucifix.
  • As the camera passes by a scene, we briefly see a man and woman apparently doing something sexual, but we couldn't really tell what.
  • Stating common things among people, the Marquis states, "We eat, we sh*t, we f*ck…"
  • After telling her that it's her wifely duty, Royer-Collard tears open Simone's nightgown in bed and then forcibly has sex with her from behind as she lies on her side (we see movement, but no nudity).
  • We see a woman sexually cavorting with two men, with one having sex from behind her. We see her bare breasts, their bare butts and related movement as one relates a story about Royer-Collard and his sexual proclivities with his new wife. We also hear related sexual sounds.
  • Royer-Collard and Simon show up with others for a play performed by the asylum's inmates, but there's been a change and instead of doing their scheduled play, the Marquis' troupe puts on a sex farce mocking Royer-Collard and his relationship with his young bride. The play's narrator makes some sexually related comments, while we then see a bed being brought out onto the "stage." A character comments about his "scepter" (penis) and tells his bride (another man dressed like a woman) to stick her legs in the air. Other related comments are made and we then see the man with his head beneath the female character's skirt (although it's really a man playing that woman). Simulated rear entry sex then follows (with related comments), as does female to male oral sex (with comments about swallowing). During all of this, some in the audience are amused and laughing, while others are shocked.
  • The Marquis tells Coulmier that he could have Madeleine pay him a visit (sexually related), comments something about a "long, slow screw," and then yells something about his "constant erection."
  • The Marquis' wife shows up and brings him some phallic objects of which she states that he thinks he gets his jollies by having her get them for him. After they get into a fight, he makes a comment about putting her mouth to its one good use.
  • As the Marquis writes his latest tale, he comments on a character's small penis that "when inflamed, towered a mere four inches." Later, once Madeleine has his story, she reads part of it to her blind mother that deals with necrophilia (reading that the character's appetites were described as post-mortem). She then reads about this character having sex with a woman six decades his senior and deceased a dozen years.
  • Some pictures show bare-breasted women.
  • While his cell is being stripped off all of its belongings, the Marquis mockingly states to be careful about the slippery candle since it's hard to say where it's been (a sexual reference). He then asks the priest (about Madeleine) something along the lines of "What if you only put it in her mouth?"
  • A woman tells a man that she could pleasure him and that he doesn't know what he's missing.
  • Simone buys an outlawed copy of the Marquis' work, removes the guts of another book, and then glues the other one inside its cover so that she can read it without being discovered (which she does in bed while her husband sleeps next to her).
  • We hear the Marquis reading (in voice over) one of his passages dealing with "pleasures of the flesh" and that a woman's power lies in her "velvet cavity betwixt her thighs."
  • Ordered to remove his clothes, the Marquis asks Coulmier that since he started this, is he ready to finish it (somewhat of a double entendre). After the Marquis strips naked, we see his bare butt, and then see him holding his wig in front of his crotch. Moments later, however, we do see male full frontal nudity.
  • We see the side of Madeleine's bare breast (from a distance and a bit out of focus), as does Coulmier.
  • Simone shows Prouix her copy of "Justine" and we briefly see a sexually related drawing that shows many people on top of others (in a chain like position). The two then flirt and he tells her that there comes a time when one must put books away in favor of real experience. She then suggestively responds that that requires a teacher.
  • Madeleine and Coulmier briefly kiss, but he then stops them.
  • We see Prouix being aroused while reading a letter and then climaxing. While we only see him from the chest up, we then see Simone rise up from his lap and wipe off her mouth (thus implying oral sex). She then tells him to sign the letter so that he can "ravish" her again. There's then talk about doing it again on the Peruvian marble, they passionately make out and she then suggestively sucks on his finger.
  • We see the Marquis' bare butt.
  • The Marquis verbally tells a sexually charged story to other inmates who then pass it on to others until it eventually gets to Madeleine who write it down. Some of the passages we hear include bits about a woman being endowed with "a tiny fissure between her thighs" and then something about a "succulent oyster," and we see one of the inmates feeling himself while passing on the story. It also later includes something about tearing out a woman's tongue.
  • We see full frontal nudity of the Marquis.
  • During a melee at the asylum, we see a bare-breasted woman run by. We also see a man behind a woman caressing her bare breasts, and then see full frontal nudity of another woman. Later, we see a man having sex from behind a woman (seen from a distance and including sights of full frontal nudity).
  • We can partially see a dead woman's bare breasts as a sheer sheet covers them.
  • We see the Marquis' bare butt as he's chained up in a dungeon and he states "I wanted to f*ck her" (about another woman who's now dead) and then says what a waste of all of her orifices. He then says that he "f*cked her countless times" and all the while "she pleaded for more" (although he's making that up, since Coulmier says that they checked the dead woman's body and discovered that she died a virgin.
  • In what turns out to be a dual fantasy scene, a man goes into a morgue of sorts, pulls the sheer sheet off a dead woman's body (we see the bare breasts), and then licks up her body that doesn't look dead. The woman then opens her eyes and we then see an aerial view of the man between the woman's legs, with his hand down at crotch level (but not seen as his body blocks our view) inserting himself into her. We then see them having sex (bare butt and movement) from both an aerial and closer, head and shoulders shot. The character then suddenly sees himself on top of a dead woman's body and then moments later in bed by himself.
  • SMOKING
  • We briefly see Prouix with a pipe.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • The Marquis and his wife obviously have a strained relationship (due to his behavior, being locked away in a mental asylum and the way he treats her). In one scene, they get into a very heated and emotional argument.
  • Simone doesn’t get along with her new husband, particularly after he forces himself on her, and she eventually has an affair.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy and/or artistic license taken with the true facts as related to this story.
  • The story as a parable for freedom of speech vs. what's determined obscene, and government intervention in such matters.
  • Whether the Marquis was just a sick, sexually charged individual, a provocative provocateur, or both.
  • Madeleine's statement that her enjoyment in reading the Marquis' writing allows her to be wholesome in real life.
  • The methods of punishment (beheading) and reform (repeatedly dunking people's heads in water) used in the period film.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A woman's neck is placed into a guillotine and after a few moments, the blade drops and she's beheaded (we also see other severed heads from previous beheadings).
  • We see a man, strapped to a chair, whose head is repeatedly dunked under some water as a means of torture and supposedly reforming him.
  • Madeleine smacks the Marquis after he tries feeling her clothed breast.
  • Aroused from a sexual farce the Marquis has staged, a large and brutish inmate grabs Madeleine from behind, pulls up her dress and tries to rape her. In response, she grabs a hot iron and presses it into his face, burning his flesh.
  • The Marquis backhands his wife.
  • Coulmier slams the Marquis back into a wall after the latter makes a sexually related comment about Coulmier and Madeleine.
  • The Marquis purposefully breaks the mirror in his cell, and then cuts his finger with a shard, resulting in some blood.
  • Madeleine is flogged for working with the Marquis and we see huge, bloody welts and cuts on her back.
  • We see Royer-Collard having the Marquis repeatedly dunked into water just like in the scene listed above.
  • A pyromaniac sets his cell bed on fire.
  • An inmate grabs a woman (and she screams) and we then hear more of her screams as he attacks her (which we don't see), while Coulmier saves another woman who was being attacked (or at least surrounded) by a bunch of male patients.
  • We see some blood on some papers as well as on an inmate who's just murdered someone. We then see some bloody water in a large washing vat and then see a woman's body under the water (with some bloody cuts on the dead woman's chest).
  • We see a man sharpening a knife that's to be used to cut out a patient's tongue (as punishment). While the camera pans away before we see the actual cutting, we do hear the sound of both the cutting and the man screaming.
  • We see the Marquis flogging himself.
  • A person swallows a cross so that he'll choke to death (which happens).
  • Coulmier briefly grabs Royer-Collard by the neck.



  • Reviewed December 5, 2000 / Posted December 15, 2000

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