Quills (2000)



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

Movie Info

The Marquis de Sade was a man who liked to stir up trouble, at a time when his native France was in a state of tremendous political turmoil, and this historical drama examines how much controversy he could cause even under repressive circumstances. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) manages to narrowly escape execution during the Reign of Terror, and instead is sentenced to the Charenton Asylum for the Insane. Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), the priest who … More

Rating: R (for strong sexual content including dialogue, violence and language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Doug Wright
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 8, 2001
Box Office: $4.3M
20th Century Fox - Official Site


as The Marquis de Sade

as Madeleine

as Abbe Coulmier

as Dr. Royer-Collard

as Madame LeClerc

as Simone

as Renee Pelagie

as Prouix

as Cleante

as Bouchon

as Orvolle

as Madame Bougival

as Mademoiselle Clairwi...

as Louison

as Mademoiselle Renard

as Sister Noirceuil

as The Horseman

as Napoleon

as Pawnbroker

as Sister Flavie

as First Vendor

as Second Vendor

as Prostitute

as Lunatic Band Member

as Lunatic at Play
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Quills

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Critic Reviews for Quills

All Critics (131) | Top Critics (39)

"Quills" is sensational in every sense of the word.

Full Review… | February 23, 2012
Top Critic

It pokes at sexual taboos - it's pretty subversive, considering - but sexuality and creativity are indelibly linked, and its true subject is expression, repression and catharsis.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Quills, about the marquis de Sade, is a voluptuous impasto. Everything in it -- the colors, the locations, the people -- seems swirled with a mixture of decadence and grace.

Full Review… | May 21, 2001
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Kaufman's biopic of the notorious Marquis de Sade is sharply uneven, serious, poignant, trashy, sleazy and sensationslist, marred by over-the-top turn from Geoffrey Rush.

Full Review… | February 8, 2011

a conceptual piece about the nature of creativity and questions of art

Full Review… | June 7, 2010
Old School Reviews

While it is horrible and sordid, it's also witty, fast-paced and intriguing as it explores freedom of expression.

Full Review… | June 25, 2004

Audience Reviews for Quills


My love for this film runs very deep indeed. As a fan of the Marquis de Sade and everything spawned after his name, as well as an advocate for the the uncensored underbelly of the literary greats, this film possessed everything someone such as myself could hope for. Moments of genuine hilarity blunted by the brutish historical truth, every single character in this film has a role to play and plays it magnificently. Rush is a superbly talented actor who never fails to keep my eyes on the screen and even Phoenix is acceptable as a preist with a naughty streak. A truly magnificent film.

Unknown Hobo

Super Reviewer

With a brilliant cast I did expect more from this. I'm unsure if she was going for a some sort of style, but Winslet looked like she couldn't act. Maybe that was just her character. Rush did a fantastic job as usual. I would have liked a better explanation to the beginning part. It seemed out of place compared to the rest of the film.

Sophie Burgess

Super Reviewer

An adaptation of the play based on a chapter of the life of the infamous Marquis De Sade whose lascivious writings scandalized post revolutionary France. Set within the walls of a church-run lunatic asylum where the Marquis was incarcerated to avoid the ignominy of prison, he is shown as a rebel using his literature to infuriate the religious establishment. Geoffrey Rush clearly relished the role and is ably supported by Joaquin Phoenix as the asylum's governor, a good man trapped within the framework of an intolerant heirarchy and Kate Winslett as the common serving girl who helps the Marquis distribute his works. Michael Caine is a little less convincing, probably because of his casting against type as the cruel, sadistic tyrant who is dispatched to "cure" him. It has shades of both Amadeus and The Madness Of King George, although the characterisation and drama of those films is not quite matched here, but it's an interesting and well made historical drama that's worth seeing for Rush's performance alone.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Quills Quotes

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