Quills (2000)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop & Anas-George Assad

   

1794. France. The Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) is a popular author of filthy stories. Some years later, he is put in Charenton Asylum for Insane in order to make him recover from his obsession about sexual things and to stop publishing his books, but a young and beautiful maid Madeleine LeClerc (Kate Winslet) finds a way to smuggle his work outside the asylum so they might be published and read by the masses. These writings provoke Napoleon Bonaparte to come to a decision to put Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) as the supervisor of the asylum, ordering him to stop the Marquis' pen.

 

In the meantime Abbe du Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), a wholly innocent bishop, is taking care of the mad people in the asylum, little knowing that Madeline is smuggling out the writing of their most corrupt and perverted patient. He is shocked to discover his attempts to quell the Marquis' writings have been unsuccessful. Troubles increase with the obsession of the marquis on writing his nasty stories. Madeleine adores his writings so much that she becomes enamored with the ruthless man. Dr. Royer-Collard threatens the abbe to close the asylum unless he finds a solution for the marquis' madness and his runaway writings, little knowing that his charming little wife (Amelia Warner) has become fascinated with the Marquis' work. The abbe tries every way that he can to stop the madness of the marquis, such as taking away his quills, paper sheets, clothes and every piece of furniture he might use to write on, but de Sade finds a way. Unfortunately, Madeleine falls as the prey of these strange and cruel behaviors, and the poor abbe loses his only love forever.

 

From a purely secular viewpoint, Quills is a very good motion picture that argues the problem of sexual desires and the struggle that we suffer when we want to choose between them and God. Also, there's a nice scene when the abbe is having a nightmare about making love with Madeleine in the church when suddenly he beholds the statue of our lord Jesus Christ crying bloody tears for his sinfulness. After watching this movie you'll be taken by it's beautiful atmosphere and you'll feel the quiver of awe. The colors, the decors and the amazing lights will take you back to that era. I think the most impressive character is the abbe, because Joaquin Phoenix plays his role in a very sensitive and adorable way that makes you feel that this bishop is an angel who accepts all the terrible problems he faces. However, this movie is also extremely filthy. Sexual writing fills the script with graphic audio depictions of perverse acts, sometimes accompanied with visuals.

 

There are several lengthy and lewd sex scenes with graphic movement and nudity; one of them involves a threesome, another is the forced consummation of a marriage, when Royer-Collard rapes his unwilling "child-wife." She later becomes adulterous. There are implications of oral sex, the Marquis has filthy toys in his cell, and numerous discussions on the nature of his works. It also implies that the church's perspective on sex is heretical, since they preach against the Marquis and then abuse their own wives and indulge in premarital and extramarital sex. There may be a little worth in the production simply for its warnings against man's carnal nature, but the content is extreme and the primary characters hardly worth rooting for. Sex is symbolic of the intimacy between Christ and his church and should never be mocked. Scripture has a great deal to say about sexual sin, including encouraging us to keep our minds pure. Quills is hardly a means to a beginning and may provoke curiosity in perversion rather than repulsion at the actions of those involved.