“Women writers don’t sell,” she’s told, an assertion later proven wrong — as the closing credits note — by Colette’s emergence as one of the most popular writers in the history of French literature, having authored “Gigi” and “Cheri.”
Wilde’s life was characterized by scandal, with the movie zeroing in on his final days, after the author of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” was the toast of British society.
A recurring theme in all three films is the idea of illicit passion, portraying people who were forced to hide their sexuality due to the bigotry of the time. All three subjects have been sources of fascination through the years, but these films are free to address those issues less timidly than earlier depictions of the era.
As Stewart told the Los Angeles Times regarding “Lizzie’s” love story, “I think it’s really cool to go back and be like, ‘What does gay look like back then?’ and ‘Who would both of these women appear to be? How would they present in a time when they couldn’t be natural with it?'”
Homophobia obviously hasn’t gone away. In fact, two more contemporary movies — the upcoming “Boy Erased” and the recently released “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” — deal with gay conversion therapy, the latter set in the 1990s.
These collective forays into the Gilded Age and its aftermath, however, provide a different perspective, using the past as another window into the present. While the films individually have their merits, in terms of registering a larger point, there’s strength in numbers.
“Colette” opens in the U.S. on Sept. 21, and “The Happy Prince” on Oct. 10. “Lizzie” is currently in release. All three are rated R.