Coco Before Chanel (12A)

Film

Drama

coco_3.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Jul 28 2009

Read our interview with the director of Coco Before Chanel here

Before Chanel, Coco was a dirt-poor child abandoned at an orphanage: hardly original territory for a biopic. But if it hadn’t been for her tough early life – itinerant father, years in care, brief early career as a tavern singer – she might never have had the gumption to found an iconoclastic fashion house. Coco wasn’t always Chanel, but she was never ordinary.

Anne Fontaine’s film has two interests: clothes and Audrey Tautou. The outfits are purposefully terrible: Coco’s early homemade monstrosities may have been original, but they didn’t have much else over the corseted excesses of the Edwardian era. But Tautou is wonderful – a black-eyed urchin so sullen and furious you forget how beautiful she is until she smiles. Not that she has a great deal to smile about, trapped in poverty and in Paris with no idea what to make of her life.

Attempting to flee the restrictions she was born with, she turns up on a rich but boorish lover’s doorstep and starts cutting down men’s clothes. These are the keys to her personality, and director Anne Fontaine handles them with respect. It must have been tempting to make the clothes prettier and the lover, Belsan (Benoît Poelvoorde), more chivalrous, but that kind of compromise would hardly have been true to the spirit of a heroine who was never one for seeing anyone else’s viewpoint, much less accommodating it. Belsan treats her abominably, but he also introduces her to the high life and to handsome Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel (Alessandro Nivola): it’s hard to say which she takes to more.

Fontaine’s film is gorgeous, but its beauty is practical, almost textile, like a Chanel tweed. It has its own excesses: if Boy had been the hero we see here, he’d have snorted at convention and married her. But, Chanel, an inveterate fantasist who fabricated her origins as assiduously as her suits, would have preferred this version. Only a late flashback, before the glamorous finale, is unworthy – Tautou, her heavy-browed little face a-glimmer with memory, simply doesn’t require its help.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Jul 31, 2009

Duration:

105 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 4 star:3
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LiveReviews|11
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Liz

I loved the film,hadn't realised it had subtitles so went on yo the visually impaired catagory and it was wonderful to hear the discription.

Paul

I am so pleased I caught this on the last of its run here and went in expecting a poor film based on so many mixed reviews. I loved the film and could see it again for so many great scenes and laying the foundations of the Chanel look. I loved the pace and description of the isolation of individuality. Certainly Tautou looks amazing on screen and walks an unexpected line of sexual ingenue and FTM look. Thank god the Edwardian look has gone forever, the women did look like old lampshades on legs! Will definately see this film again to enjoy more of richness.

Sarah

Good performance from Audrey Tautou but overall on the verge of boring.

Volga

A really good piece, truly inspiring. Every moment is enjoyable there... the only disadvantage there is no continuation. Who interested in life of Carl Lagerfeld?

Volga

A really good piece, truly inspiring. Every moment is enjoyable there... the only disadvantage there is no continuation. Who interested in life of Carl Lagerfeld?

Suzy

I would recommend this film. I am not especially interested in fashion, but the early life story of Coco was fascinating and the story kept moving at a good pace. I would have liked more information at the end about the rest of her life as this film only covered up until she became a success. Overall really interesting and worth seeing.

joss

i have recently come out of the closet and this film is the perfect first date, which i enjoyed with my new man.

joss

i have recently come out of the closet and this film is the perfect first date, which i enjoyed with my new man.

Andrew Howe

Coco is so-so. It plods along lacking dramatic drive. I ended up not caring about her one bit. Imterestingly, she fraternised with the germans during WW2 but was reprieved of war-crime charges by the British royal family. A manipulative, self-serving person of undoubtedly extraordinary talent.

Emily

Very well acted. Interesting historically about the life of Coco (Chanel) as a young woman, before she became so famous.