When Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps premiered in Paris in 1913, the savage, iconoclastic piece caused one of the most famous brawls in music history. Among the city’s elite in the audience that night was a hot new designer named Coco Chanel (Mouglalis); a chance meeting between the two creative revolutionaries gave birth to a brief but legendary love affair. The few months that Stravinsky (Mikkelsen), his consumptive wife, Katarina (Morozova), and four children spent at Chanel’s estate outside Paris captivated author and screenwriter Chris Greenhalgh, who treats the affair as a catalyst for the creation of Chanel No. 5, and for the composer’s fertile neoclassical period.
Economy may have been paramount to both of their styles, but not to Jan Kounen: The hallucinatory director turns the simple story into a Bergmanesque two-hour fantasia told through dour, elegiac stares. While we see Mouglalis’s sphinxlike Chanel and Mikkelsen’s stoic Stravinsky au naturel plenty of times, we never see their characters emotionally naked. The opening riot at The Rite of Spring concert sets the scene for an anticlimactic biopic, which could have been sumptuously potent had this dual portrait of artists in love been trimmed...or at least hemmed.—Olivia Giovetti
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