COLETTE is the new Keira Knightley film, a biographical picture from Leeds-born director Wash Westmoreland, who is best known for his work on Still Alice.

Knightley plays French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, best known by her last name and as the writer of 1944 novella Gigi, at the turn of the last century. A plot not so dissimilar to last year’s The Wife sees Colette discover her inner voice and talent for writing, only to be suppressed an allegedly intellectual husband. What follows is a gender defying battle for liberty between a man stuck in the hegemonic past and a woman on the cusp of locating her own democratic future.

Surrounding Knightley, a splendid cast includes Dominic West as Colette’s husband - French art critic Henry Gauthier-Villars - and Denise Gough, in the role of the infamous, cross-dressing lesbian French noblewoman Mathilde de Morny. Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson, Atlantis’ Aiysha Hart and Game of Thrones’ Robert Pugh also feature, as does the indomitable Fiona Shaw.

Following a string of duds - the dreadful Collateral Beauty among them - Colette gives Knightley her first hit since 2014’s The Imitation Game. As biopics go, this one is thoroughly entertaining, genially empowering and a touch thought-provoking too.

Also out this week is Stan & Ollie, yet another welcome biopic for 2019 and more knowingly aimed at awards season success. While such success seems a little beyond the film’s reach, this is a nonetheless crowd pleasing entertainer from Scottish director Jon S. Baird. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly turn out terrific performances as Stanley Laurel and Oliver Hardy, the comic duo who entertained cinema goers across the globe during the silent era of classic Hollywood, throwing their emotional all into an affectionate retelling of iconic lives. Reilly, in particular, impresses here, under layers of prosthetic makeup that took the production four hours to apply every day of the shoot.

Don’t go into the film, which comes from the pen of Philomena writer Jeff Pope, expecting too much comedy for, whilst it is occasionally funny, Stan & Ollie is set some time after their heyday. The year is 1953 and Hollywood has largely forgotten its once huge stars.

Far from the big screen, Laurel and Hardy instead tour the half-empty halls and hotels of Britain, attempting to revive their fame in the face of rivals like Norman Wisdom. It’s a downbeat but unfailingly endearing journey.