Saturday, 24 September 2011

Coco Before Chanel

UK Release: 31st July 2009
Watched on Orange Film To Go: Thursday 22nd September 2011
Rating: 12A
Genre: Biography, Drama
Runtime: 1hr 45mins
Tagline: Before she was France's famous mademoiselle...

IMDb Plot Summary: Several years after leaving the orphanage to which her father never returned for her, Gabrielle Chanel finds herself working in a provincial bar both. She's both a seamstress for the performers and a singer, earning the nickname Coco from the song she sings nightly with her sister. A liaison with Baron Balsan gives her an entree into French society and a chance to develop her gift for designing increasingly popular hats. When she falls in love with English businessman Arthur Capel further opportunities open up, though life becomes ever more complicated.

My Review: I took advantage of the new Orange Film To Go offer (where on Thursdays you can rent a film for the price of a 35p text) this week and downloaded a film I’ve been interested in seeing for a little while: Coco Before Chanel. 
It starts off a little mournfully as Gabrielle (as she is known to begin with) is taken to a nunnery to live with her sister after their father abandons them. Immediately you can tell it is going to be a good looking film, with lots of beautiful, artistic and detailed shots. But as we are taken to the future, where Gabrielle and her sister, Adrienne, are singing in a Cabaret club, you start to invest in the characters as well and are thrown into this incredible world right on the cusp of change.
You root for Coco from the moment you see her embarrassment and unique spark in the Cabaret club. This is entirely down to Audrey Tautou who is simply stunning and thoroughly shines as the incredible actress that she is. You whole-heartedly believe that she is Coco as she embodies the role so entirely. 
Balsan is introduced quite early on and he goes on to be one of the most important men in Coco’s life. She somehow manages to work her way into staying with him (almost permanently!) for many years. Their relationship is turbulent and kept me hooked from beginning to end. Balsan (played well by Benoit Poelvoorde) is a very complex character - he can be nice and nasty at the same time and it took me a while to make up my mind about him. Ultimately, though, I believe he meant the best for Coco and I even wound up feeling sorry for him by the end. That’s because a new man steps into Coco’s life - Capel, or ‘Boy’ as he is nicknamed. He shows her love as she has never known it before and inspires her style and many of her future designs. Because as this is the biography of Coco Chanel - the women - it is, at its core, an incredible character piece that completely reels you in: it isn’t until quite near the end that her fashion plays a major part in the story. Part of the beauty of it is that you can see a brilliant designer (indeed one of the best the world's ever had) gradually unfolding into life. And the subtle growth of her talent and Coco’s confidence as a woman, loved by Boy, is what leads to her fame. 
The result is a beautiful, heartbreaking and intimate portrait of the wonderful women that was Coco Chanel.
Score: 8.5/10

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