Tossing aside period conventions, Keira Knightley shakes things up in Colette

An extramarital romp in the barn just a few minutes in, progressive casting that integrates LGBTQ performers and actors of colour and a central focus on an empowered woman exploring her sexuality and identity: Colette overturns the conventions of the Hollywood period drama.

French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette smashed barriers and expectations, so it made sense to channel that for a biopic about her early life, the director and stars of Colette said in Toronto this month, when the film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film opens in theatres Friday.

"We tried to break a lot of the rules of traditional period pieces," said writer-director Wash Westmoreland, describing the sumptuous drama as a "direct, sexual period piece." Watch Keira Knightley, Dominic West and Wash Westmoreland share what makes Colette relevant today.