Coco avant Chanel

Coco avant Chanel

(2009)

The brilliant Audrey Tautou plays the headstrong, self-sufficient designer who, in pre-First World War France, was one of the first women to assert herself in a man's world.... More

Born poor in 1883 in rural France, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel overcame her lack of breeding via a keen eye, forthright manner and revolutionary approach to women's tailoring that, incredibly, transformed a gruff peasant girl into the embodiment of chic. The iconic innovator lived to be 87 but the film concentrates on the stretch of time specified in the title ('Coco Before Chanel'), as Chanel scrambles to get by, absorbs visual inspiration from her surroundings and unabashedly uses men to get closer to Paris. [Source: NZ International Film Festival]Hide

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Flicks Review

Fashionistas, be warned. Those expecting a lavish romp through Chanel's collections will be disappointed. For while couture and this well-known creator of it is front and centre, writer-director Anne Fontaine's biopic is more an entree to Coco's career than the full degustation some might have wished for.

That said, it does prove an interesting insight into what made her a rule-breaking, style-making designer. While the direction is visually uninspired, costumes aside, credit Fontaine with following a coherent chronology rather than the styles-du-jour of a contemporary frame tale or the fractured narrative that marred and muddied La Vie En Rose.

Tautou, sporting Diane Keaton's wardrobe and a ubiquitous cigarette, is again a striking presence, with Chanel providing more grit and grimaces than the eternally optimistic Amelie that made her a star.

Composer Alexandre Desplat's (The Painted Veil, The Queen) subtle, piano-based score is evocative and up to his usual high standards but overall this is closer to Pretty Woman or Pygmalion than Paris Fashion Week and lacks a little panache or je ne sais quoi to make it truly memorable.


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 9 ratings, 9 reviews
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There's a delicacy that you can almost taste in this movie... a whimiscal air probably created by nostaglia.
Tatou is exquisite (as usual) believable as Coco Chanel. Very good child-adult matchup. I didn't feel I was watching a great movie, but a very accurate reference to a whole lot of past's images.


I found this film fascinating Its strength being on the examination of Cocos relationships with both men and women and the losses in her life that gave her the determination to keep going. Then symbolioc internalisation of her love affair with Boy, who she descrbies as "loving more than life itself "was the springboard that escalated her to fame. The direction of the love scenes was compelling, with passion in every frame. I loved this movie and will keep it in my library for ever as it will... More stay in my mind for some time. What a suffrogette she was and yet what a sensual woman as well. A poignant combination Oscar please SusanHide


A focussed and segmental perspective of an innovative and creative woman.


Its a perfect role for Tautou and she makes the movie work. The French make the best movies and this beats most of the rubbish that comes out of the states. Certainly worth seeing...


What a strog woman!
Great high quality film making, beautifully shot in Panavision
Enough male content to keep 'man interest' so partners need not be deterred.
Inspiring content


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The Press Reviews

  • More a snapshot of a moment than conventional biography, and while less complex than it might want to be, still a quietly thoughtful look at one of the 20th century’s most influential characters. Full Review

  • While handsomely crafted and enjoyable enough, Coco avant Chanel ultimately fails to live up to the potential of its colourful subject. Admittedly, I’m probably not the target market, and if the ‘sold out’ sign hanging from the box office at my screening is anything to go by, this looks set to become the crowd-pleasing hit of the festival. Full Review

  • Much like Chanel's signature designs, the film is precise, tailored and stylish - but conservative. Things are hinted at but rarely spelt out. The film seeks to explain how Chanel became the mogul she did and reveals various, subtle threads that shaped her life. But the whole thing feels like it is laying the foundations for the film you really want to see - the one about a glamorous designer conquering the world. Full Review

  • Playing Coco’s orphaned beginnings like a violin, writer/director Anne Fontaine shows a sure hand when it comes to emotional button-pushing. But she dithers over how to end and her pedestrian shooting style (offset by stark production design) suits her spiky subject about as well as the bloom-laden hats she reviled. Full Review

  • For all its niggling faults, Coco Avant Chanel, is an engaging film which provides some insight into the birth of a business that became a global empire - all because of one determined young woman. Full Review

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