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Home » Culture and Criticism

Coco avant Chanel

Submitted by on March 1, 2010 – 5:41 PM5 Comments

It’s hard to tell if the movie intends to portray Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel as morally compromised and often bratty, as part of a larger conversation about the forging of genius. If so, the script could have stood to make that clearer, but if not, Coco as portrayed here isn’t impossible to spend time with; you just find yourself wishing that she’d light a fire under it already if she’s not going to stay with Balsan.

The movie has heavy atmosphere, though; you get a sense of the coexisting claustrophobia and rudderlessness that attend being kept in that way. The acting is very good too, especially Benoit Poelvoorde and Alessandro Nivola. Roles like theirs in a bio-pic like this can come out cardboard no matter what you do, but Balsan and Capel have depth here. Nivola’s choices seem a little Regency-novel initially, but stick with him, he turns it around.

The end is a bit tired, all the reflections in the mirrors and the flashbacks, but it makes a nice moment for Tautou, who prior to that isn’t called on to do much but pose and glare.

Sarah 43, Death Race 15; 12 of 24 categories completed




  • meghan says:

    I really loved this movie. It’s so beautiful and Chanel is written as this odd, sometimes contradictory and opaque character. You don’t see really human female roles with that level of depth and nuance very often. And the CLOTHES. So interesting and refreshing and Chanel-y without being cliche. I particularly loved the scenes where she was making her clothes out of his.

  • DuchessKitty says:

    I thought Tautou was excellent in this. But I would like to watch it again some day soon, not much stayed with me.

    15 more to go Sars! Do you think you can do it by Sunday? I hope so.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Duchess: Unless I get a Hail Mary on the documentary shorts, it doesn’t look good. But I can get close.

  • Margaret in CO says:

    Are documentary shorts as flattering as Norwegian curling pants?

  • Sandman says:

    I think Tautou is an interesting choice for Chanel. They don’t resemble each other all that much, but Tautou is believably different-looking in the role – not too obviously glamorous. Tautou is quite changeable: gamine and frankly odd as Amélie, “a handsome woman” as Gabrielle, and altogether achingly beautiful in A Very Long Engagement. (Yow.) I can’t decide which influenced which, if there was any influence either way – the role in Coco, or Chanel Inc.’s choice of her as the new face of No. 5. That Orient Express commercial with her is pretty durned romantic, though.

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