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Coco Before Chanel


Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and smoking.
Release Date: 2009-09-25
Starring: Anne Fontaine
Film Genre:
Country: France
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Coco Before Chanel

“Coco Before Chanel” is nothing short of a treat for your eyes – and your sensibilities. Anne Fontaine has created a period piece that like its subject, Gabriel “Coco” Chanel, is a classic.


Fontaine and Audrey Tautou create Coco seamlessly before your eyes. As the title claims this is a film about Coco, not about the successful Chanel. It is a story about a woman who is destined to be an icon, but not about the icon. In short this film is not about fashion, it is the story of a woman’s tragic success. Thanks to Fontaines’ masterful screenplay and direction this glimpse of Coco’s life feels authentic without being audacious.


Fontaine and Tautou take care to represent the eyes of Coco, as they become the vision of Channel. The whole narrative plays through the understanding of Coco’s vision, and Tautou portrays it perfectly from her first glimpse to her final gaze. Of course this film is incomplete without Etienne Balsan, Benoit Poelvoorde, and Boy Capel, Alessandro Nivola, because at its heart is the story of a woman’s tragedy and assiduity. The care and portrayal of these key figures matches that of Tautous’, which keeps the audience attached to the emotions and vulnerabilities of each until the bittersweet end.


The film in no mean encompasses the eighty-seven years of Coco Channel’s life; it does, however, encompass the style. It is a quiet, comfortable film that is driven through, in part, by the magic of stills; and so if you are outside those niche audiences prepare yourself for an altogether different experience. Like all things Coco Chanel, even if you cannot afford it, you cannot afford to miss it.

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