2009 biopic about the early life of Coco Chanel. Several years after leaving the orphanage, to which her father never returned for her, Gabrielle Chanel finds herself working in a provincial bar both. She's both a seamstress for the performers and a singer, earning the nickname Coco from the song she sings nightly with her sister. A liaison with Baron Balsan gives her an entree into French society and a chance to develop her gift for designing.
Log in to post a review.
At the Movies
Coco Avant Chanel (PG) * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Sometimes its wise to pay attention to a film title before just venturing out to a theatre. A case in point is the latest Alliance Release, Coco avant Chanel. Those who know French realize that this short three word title translates to Coco before Chanel. Thus we are transported back in time to learn the beginning of what was to become the Chanel empire. Fashion aficionados will be pleased to see how it all began over while walking down the runway at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
for 105 minutes.
Mention Chanel and women the world over know thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s synonymous with the famed French designer. Men too know that name signifies fine perfume and lavish clothing. Instead of concentrating on all the glamour we are immersed in the womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s early life before she became a household name in France and then all over the world.
Only one actress could manage this role and the filmmakers naturally got their first choice, Audrey Tautou. Coco Avant Chanel explores her early childhood and then takes us into her Ã¢â‚¬Å“stageÃ¢â‚¬Â career before meeting a string of French elite who welcome her into a world of richness and exclusivity. Naturally, along the way there are times for new friendships to develop, particularly with a few men who play pivotal parts in her development.
Apart from all the rich jet set life behind Coco Avant Chanel is an unending quest on the part of this woman for design and excellence. Here I found the film somewhat lacking as there are only hints at the actual design work and more importance placed on her relationships with the rich friends that come her way, complete with the requisite castles and servants and games that only the wealthy can indulge in.
Rather subdued, Coco Avant Chanel suffers from being slow moving and not that dynamic. Only one glimpse of the sheer excitement of the fashion world Coco pioneered gets covered and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s near the end of the film. So we have here a pretty Ã¢â‚¬Å“ordinaryÃ¢â‚¬Â look at a woman who changed style for ever. Talk about a missed opportunity. Director Anne Fontaine, who wrote this story, needed to include more of the glitz and glamour that arrived when Coco became prominent as opposed to only concentrating on her earlier years before she became famous.
Despite this obvious setback that takes away from CocoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life the casting and look of the film is good. Tautou, as always, is excellent and impressive and perfectly portrays this icon. Watch out for other strong work from Alessandro Nivola (Goal) and Etiene Balsan as suitors. And that rich French countryside is well displayed though not that memorable, unlike those dazzling designs Coco pioneered.
Short on glamour but long on a rather tepid maturing process Coco avant Chanel probably works best for those who like French tales with not too much flash.
Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com