Quills

Critics Consensus

Though hard to watch, this film's disturbing exploration of freedom of expression is both seductive and thought-provoking.

75%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 126

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 45,562

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Movie Info

A fictional work that reconstructs the unknown fate of the Marquis de Sade, the writer and sexual deviant who was imprisoned in an insane asylum for the last 10 years of his life. The Marquis de Sade befriends the director of the asylum and shares affections with the asylum laundress. When a doctor is sent in to cure the Marquis of his supposed madness, the Marquis's rebellious character only grows stronger.

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Critic Reviews for Quills

All Critics (126) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (95) | Rotten (31)

Audience Reviews for Quills

  • Apr 14, 2020
    Though disgusting at times, this movie is BRILLIANT, with excellent performances (especially that of Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade, who is my favorite character in the film), and great story!! I loved it!!
    Serge E Super Reviewer
  • Dec 17, 2013
    It's surprising to see a blockbuster film focusing on such controversial topics. Quills is about the years in which Marquis de Sade was incarcerated in asylum and a young woman who secretly helps him to publish his works. I love the artistic direction of the film, the set design and costumes were brilliant. Despite having convey the beauty of libertinism, it was historically inaccurate, also at times the film can be difficult to enjoy. Kate Winslet surprised me with her performance, as well as many other big stars, who I'd never thought in a million year to star in this film. The only problem i have with this film is that everyone speaks in a pretentious English accent when the film was clearly set in France. Quills is a film that best to be avoided by most people, unless you are into something provocative.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • May 29, 2013
    There it is: another "historical" movie, good one I'll say, but with no accuracy at all! Why directors cannot at least, try to make an honest movie with things that actually happened. Don't tell me that the life of Marquis de Sade wasn't exciting enough that the screenwriters had to mix up the events and add things that never happened! The director Philip Kaufman's movie re-imagines the last years of the Marquis' incarceration in the insane asylum at Charenton... and does that really well with the help of the stars Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade, Joaquin Phoenix as the Abbé du Coulmier, Michael Caine as Dr. Royer-Collard, and Kate Winslet as laundress Madeleine "Maddie" LeClerc. Rush was exceptional, which resulted in nominations for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. About the factual inaccuracies, writers said they were not making a biography of de Sade, but exploring issues such as censorship, pornography, sex, art, mental illness, and religion... but somehow they managed to do all that simplifying de Sade's complex life! Overall experience was positive, and you could enjoy this R rated movie if you are ready to accept that most of it is a product of imagination, not real events.
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • May 04, 2013
    Quills is the sort of historical period piece that is frustrating, feeling both fascinating and inaccessible. The film revolves around Marquis de Sade, a nefarious and deeply troubled aristocrat with a knack for causing controversy with his explicit writings. The film documents his relationship with a chamber maid, who helps smuggle out his writings, and the ramifications of it. The film's take on de Sade is fascinating. It portrays a man that is relentless in his quest to spread his vile writings, with Geoffrey Rush giving a very fine performance. We see a self obsessed, driven, but certainly psychotic man. The film uses this to examine themes of expression and moral ambiguity, which I appreciated. It's also matched with equally strong performances by Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, and, above all, Michael Caine. Where the film becomes frustrating, however, is in the supporting characters. Their actions never seem believable, and are frustratingly irrational. It's as if they are acting as they would in the mind of de Sade, without any respect to the actual context of the situation. Their character arcs don't feel organic to the events that are transpiring, making the film often disengaging and hard to watch. This is especially true of Kate Winslet's character, whose fascination with de Sade is never fully explored, and with Phoenix's character, who is simply written as an ignorant, highly emotional, and weak man. The themes the film brings up are interesting, but without other dynamic characters to compliment Rush, it's of no use. The dramatic action of Quills never seems to culminate in anything. There's interesting points, but to no real payoff to them. Overall, there's enough here to hold your interest, with a good premise, but a frustrating execution. 3/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer

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