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
BY James Croot Flicks Writer
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.
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Coco avant Chanel
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.
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