Censorship, madness, social rebellion and the power of art: With heavy-duty topics like these in the mix, Philip Kaufman's impassioned adaptation of Doug Wright's Obie-winning 1995 play (which owes at least some debt of imagination to Peter Weiss'
) can't be accused of shallow sensationalism. In 1807, the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) is confined to the Charenton asylum for the insane, run by the gentle Abbe de Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix). The abbe believes in treating madness through art and exercise, and
encourages the Marquis to purge his mind of poison by committing his thoughts to paper. The Marquis, naturally, isn't the least bit i...