Based on historical fact of the Napoleonic Era, the notorious Marquis de Sade continues to write about the pain of love and the love of pain while banished to a secluded Paris asylum. A young, idealistic priest endeavors to save his soul but instead is distracted by de Sade\'s luscious maid. The asylum director Dr. Royce-Collard vows to cure de Sade, by any means possible.
This story of the Marquis de Sade isn't exactly a docudrama. It invents elements to make its rather obvious point about the price exacted by art and the state that liberals trying to do what's right can be whipped into. Fortunately, the elegance of Philip Kaufman's direction and his handling of the cast make for the kind of euphoric stylishness that has been missing from moviegoing for some time. Much of that élan comes from Geoffrey Rush, who plays Sade as a gleeful voluptuary unfettered by either morality or what for him would be the most venal of sins, sentimentality. Sade has been confined to the Charenton Asylum, and, for him, this is merely slumming, a time when he gets to evaluate the damaged and discarded psyches that litter the rooms and decide which is his most apt target. And Mr. Kaufman revels in the chaos. — Elvis Mitchell
2000-11-22 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Quills