Quills is an adaptation of the play based on a chapter of the life of the infamous Marquis De Sade whose lascivious writings scandalised 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 hierarchy and Kate Winslett as the common serving girl who helps the Marquis distribute his works. Michael Caine is a little less convincing however, 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.