Paris 1913. Coco Chanel is infatuated with the rich and handsome Boy Capel, but she is also compelled by her work. Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is about to be performed. The ... See full summary »
The film tells the story of the early life and rise to fame and fortune of French fashion designer Coco Chanel, beginning with her upbringing in an orphanage and training as a milliner, but... See full summary »
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F. Murray Abraham
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If you want to travel to another era and get a full introduction to the world of fashion, here's a great way to do it.
Even if it is a melodrama, it's so well made, with such obsession with detail, refinement, (as Chanel's works, by the way) that you can't but fall for Coco's challenges. And yet it doesn't shy away from her daily struggles. As a business student, I couldn't help noticing how often she was verging on bankruptcy, and how she came out of it with a mixture of audacity, being at the right places and yes, bedding rich gentlemen "above her station" as a Victorian would put it.
Music is fine, as is of course, wardrobe and photography. Being from Argentina, I found a happy curiosity that there are a couple of tangos and Argentina is mentioned twice, as a "land of hope". The first company mentioned on the titles that produced this film is called "Pampa", I suppose it must have something to do with it.
Barbora Bobulova is stunning as young Cocó. Probably more likable besides more beautiful than Audrieu Tatou, with which obviously one is drawn to compare it all the time. Both are fine, probably "Cocó avant Chanel" emphasizes the sad and grim aspects more, whereas this version, being longer, can indulge into more romance and yet show us, for instance, what happened to her beloved sister, something absent from the feature film. Also in this version we see the origin of the famous perfume N 5 and her famous "little black dress". Étienne Balsan and Boy Capel are totally different in both films. So much they almost look like if one of the two films got it all wrong. Étienne in particular is always amiable and respectful to Cocó here, whereas on "avant Chanel" Poelvoorde makes a perfect "good for nothing spoilt boy who never grew up". Boy is also given much more screen time and importance here. Emilienne d'Alencon is barely shown here, and the game of differences could go on and on. I suppose purists and people who really know the real story will love one story and hate the other. But for us newbies both are surprisingly enjoyable. I understand Mc Laine got all the prizes but in my opinion Boulova should have got them.
My "favourite little moment" is how the beautiful countess who lost everything becomes her shrewd "royal secretary", even suggesting her it'd be advantageous for Cocó for "everybody loves nobility. Specially in a republic". I suppose it's a worthy lesson on how money matters are fleeting indeed. I could only wonder, if this is a TV series, what would they have made were they given the ample resources of a feature film...
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