Audrey Tautou (left) as Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and Marie Gillain as her sister Adrienne in Coco Before Chanel.
Coco Before Chanel
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by Anne Fontaine; Starring: Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola, Marie Gillain and Emanuelle Devos
Sep 25, 2009
Issue #28 Fall 2009 - Monsters of Folk
Wide countryside shots, quality acting, and the appeal of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's early fashions make this French biopic an ease to watch. It's stylish and elegant, like the Chanel label itself. Audrey Tautou, quintessentially French and a timeless screen presence, proves to be an ideal actress to play the legendary designer, channeling Chanel's admirable sophistication throughout the film.
Writer/director Anne Fontaine explores how a female in the early 20th century broke away from the mold of what women were (or were supposed to be) to create an empire, tracing Chanel's life from her days as a young orphan and poor seamstress with a modern knack for style, to a kept woman who wants to design hats. During her rise, Chanel is caught between two men; Benoît Poelvoorde brings complexity to the role of wealthy playboy Étienne Balsan, while Alessandro Nivola is truly charismatic as Arthur "Boy" Capel, the love of never-married Chanel's life.
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 4/10