• 18
  • Philip Kaufman (2000)
  • US / Ger
  • 118 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
5 out of 5

Depending on your point of view, this is either a remarkable testimony to the importance of artistic freedom or the debauched tale of a devilish man: either way, it's a considerable cinematic achievement. Geoffrey Rush is perfect as the unrepentant Marquis de Sade, confined to a mental institution and smuggling his "smut" to a publisher via laundry maid Kate Winslet. When hard-line psychiatrist Michael Caine is sent to oversee the liberal regime of priest Joaquin Phoenix, de Sade has to use all his ingenuity to continue writing. Director Philip Kaufman's multilayered exploration of cruelty, repression and hypocrisy celebrates de Sade's indomitable spirit, while reminding us of the enduring and corruptive power of his imagination. Quills is the work of a master.

Plot Summary

Biographical drama starring Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix. Despite his incarceration in an asylum for the insane, the Marquis de Sade continues to write his sexually explicit stories. When his latest novel is published, it attracts the attention of Napoleon, who sends in the brutal Dr Royer-Collard to silence de Sade. A battle of wills ensues, with both men prepared to go to extreme lengths to get their way.

Cast and crew


Marquis de Sade
Geoffrey Rush
Kate Winslet
Abbé Coulmier
Joaquin Phoenix
Dr Royer-Collard
Michael Caine
Madame LeClerc
Billie Whitelaw
Patrick Malahide
Amelia Warner
Renée Pelagie
Jane Menelaus
Edward Tudor-Pole
Mademoiselle Clairwil
Pauline McLynn


Philip Kaufman

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
20th Century Fox
Violence, swearing, sex scenes and nudity.
Available on video and DVD
Released 19 Jan 2001
Certificate 18