How Discs Are Rated

News Archives

DVD Guide


Video Game Reviews

About DVDlaunch

Meet The Staff


Click above to purchase "Quills" at



review by Zach B.

Rated R

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 124 minutes

Starring Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Michael Caine, Joaquin Phoenix

Written by Doug Wright
Based upon his play

Directed by Philip Kaufman

Retail Price: $29.98

Features: Commentary With Writer Doug Wright, Marquis On The Marquee featurette, Creating Charenton featurette, Dressing The Part featurette, Still Gallery Of Production Artifacts, Fact & Film, Theatrical Trailers, TV Spot, Music Promo Spot

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (20 Chapters)

It's Paris, sometime during the early 1800s. Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) has an interesting reputation as a erotic writer. The problem for Sade though is that he's locked in an asylum, but his laundry girl Madeleine (Kate Winslet) takes what sexual writings he has out of his comfortable cell and gets them published. However, Abbe Coulimer (Joaquin Phoenix), the asylum's priest, isn't too happy about that. Still, the public loves Sade's writings, but he crosses the line when he writes a satirical play about the respected Dr. Collard (Michael Caine). However, as everyone tries to opress Sade, things just get wilder and wilder. I don't know what to give away any more of the movie, but as it goes along, I have to say it gets more and more entertaining.

I really wasn't sure what to expect from "Quills" at first, considering how many mixed reviews I heard. Some critics loved it and some absolutley trashed it. I rather liked the movie. It's nicely paced and developed. While I've never read Doug Wright's play or seen it performed, the dialogue here is well written and true to the characters, and the story is quite entertaining. And all of it is based on true events.

There's a lot to like about "Quills". Philip Kaufman directs it with much style and passion, with some great editing and nicely laid out shots. The sets and costumes are really, really nice to look at and make it all the more believable, you'll feel like you're there watching everything unfold before your eyes (the film scored two Oscar® nods in this department: for Costume Design and Art Direction).

Still, the heart of "Quills" is its acting. There is some fine ensemble acting. Geoffrey Rush earned a lot of nominations (including an Academy Award® nod) and a good amount of awards for his performance as Sade, and he is truly perfect for the role. Rush is a fantastic actor, who always brings a lot of depth and emotion to his rules to give them a lot of breath, and his performance here is no exception. Rush's performance is really intense, but with that, comes Sade's sneakiness and insanity. Rush executes the character perfectly. The rest of the cast has some great chemistry with Rush and have solid performances all around.

If you like great acting, some great production values and a gripping story, "Quills" is definitely your stroke (heh, sorry for my usual corny joke).

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Quills" looks incredibly dazzling. This is by far one of the best Fox transfers I've seen on DVD. But then again, Fox mostly does great transfers (some are even THX certified as you know, but this isn't). Colors are perfectly saturated, as fleshtones and hues hit the target perfectly. The red splattering at the end of chapter 1 and the very start of the second chapter is really, really glorious. Detail is good and black as well as shadow level directly hit their marks. The only flaw is a blemish here and there, but it's not that distracting. "Quills" has some great visual beauty in sets and costumes, and this DVD brings it to life with great dimensions, it really pops out at you. Fantastic transfer all around.

"Quills" has a surprisingly active 5.1 Dolby Digital track that really brings the whole film to life, and gives it a really nice boost. Fidelity is pretty high, and there are some really nice surrounds. The horses and carriages riding off brings a sense to the time, but the scenes with the thunder and rain really shook my speakers. Little things also help this track, such as the murmurs in the crowds. An English Dolby Surround track is also included, as well as a French Dolby Surround track. There are English and Spanish subtitles for your enjoyment.

"Quills" has a very nice set of supplements, including a Commentary With Doug Wright. Though Wright has some gaps here and there, he's really informative about the real events compared to what happens in the movie and seemed to have a great time writing it as well as the final movie. Wright also gives some very interesting production stories, as he is very relaxed and has some pretty insightful things to say. It seems he's done a lot of research when writing the movie and knows his stuff, so if you're interested in what really went on and/or liked the movie, you'll want to listen to this. Pretty good despite the pauses, and Wright has a very nice soothing voice.

Marquis On The Marquee is an interesting featurette that has some behind the scenes footage, clips from the film and a bevy of interviews, with Michael Caine, Doug Wright, Philip Kaufman, Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet and a few others. Everyone pretty much gives their input on the story, the themes, the characters and the like. A very good featurette, so if you check this disc out, be sure to watch it.

Creating Charenton is another good featurette that focuses on production designer Martin Childs. This also has clips from the films, behind the scenes footage and interviews with the likes of Winslet, Caine, Phoenix and of course, Childs himself. This is pretty much all on Childs, as he shows off some of the designs of the sets, the actual sets and how things went from his head to real life. Childs is pretty articulate and interesting to listen to, as he shares his thoughts on the story and bringing it to life. This was very interesting, since "Quills" has a lot of visual beauty. Watch this.

Dressing The Part features Jacqueline West, the costume designer. As I mentioned, the movie has some great costumes. West is pretty insightful as she talks about director Kaufman, and Kaufman is also interviewed. There's clips, design sketches and behind the scenes footage from the film as well. West talks about creating the costumes and the design aspect, as well as some challenges she faced. Another excellent watch.

Still Gallery Of Production Artifacts shows a lot of props and designs from the film, including letters, theater tickets and sketch designs. A bit short, but all in all, a very decent supplement that you should enjoy if you liked the movie.

Fact & Film is a very interesting text based supplement, where we learn about the real characters and how they really were as opposed to how they were portrayed in the film. There's also some interesting tidbits about the actors. Be sure to read it.

On the promo side, you get two Theatrical Trailers. One is in English and the other is the same one, but with Spanish subtitles. There's also a TV Spot and a Music Promo Spot.

Finally, there are some easy to navigate animated menus that I really liked, as they really reflect the film well. Done with much taste and style.

"Quills" is a great period peace with great costumes, sets, direction, writing and some fantastic acting. If you missed it in theaters, give "Quills" a spin on DVD. This isn't really a mainstream movie so much and is sure to bore some people out there, but if you like historical stories, great acting, tremendous acting and all that comes with it, "Quills" is for you. Another excellent DVD from Fox.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




(3.5/5, NOT an average), reviews and everything on this site © 2000, 2001
All rights reserved.
Nothing may be reprinted without permission.