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Coco Before Chanel (2009)

A 2009 movie directed by Anne Fontaine starring Audrey Tatou

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What a Waif!

  • Oct 20, 2009
  • by
Watch this movie for the beautiful scenes of French countryside, and for the drama of Coco Chanel's early life, but do not be misled by the preview, which gives you the most romantic scene in the movie and does not show how much misery is involved in the rest of the film.

What bothered me most about Audrey Tatou's performance was how waif-ish she was. Those hollow-eyed expressions. Those wistful glances. Her attitude seemed perfect for a waspish model, but not the leader of an empire. She should have evolved more.

Sitting on the stairway at the end, after she had built her great fashion line, she was still alienated. It was as if the message to us was, "This life isn't great, it would have been better to get married." 

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October 23, 2009
By the way, I saw this movie with four women, all of whom raved about it afterward. I just had to get out of my system how I felt about it.
October 21, 2009
You might still like it. The photography is amazing. The critic at the Wall Street Journal thought she was fantastic in this role. I'm pretty sensitive.
October 20, 2009
How disappointing.  I love Chanel and I love Audrey Tautou so I thought that this film would be a win.  Thanks for sharing!
October 20, 2009
That sounds depressing. Coco was fabulous and I expect her to be portrayed as so.
More Coco Before Chanel (2009 movie... reviews
review by . April 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
In a curious mixture of somber reality and breakout sentimentality, Anne Fontaine's biopic "Coco Before Chanel" showcases Audrey Tatou (Amélie) in an anti-gamin role as hardscrabble feminist Gabrielle Chanel, one of the great fashion innovators of the twentieth century. Fontaine's juxtaposing of the realities of an unmarried woman's life at the end of the Belle Epoque and the unemotional resignation and resentment of convention as displayed by Gabrielle (nicknamed Coco as she sings a bawdy ditty …
Quick Tip by . March 28, 2010
posted in Reel Overseas
I really enjoyed this film. It was very well-acted and at times quite sexy. As far as biopics go, this was great!
About the reviewer
Joy Schwabach ()
Ranked #478
I write the syndicated newspaper column "On Computers' with my husband, Bob Schwabach.  See oncomp.com for more.
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About this movie


Before she became Coco, the world-famous fashion designer, Gabrielle Chanel (Audrey Tautou in a fiercely determined performance) struggled to make ends meet. After her mother's death, her father deposited her and her sister, Adrienne (Marie Gillain), at an orphanage, where they learned to sew (and where Chanel developed a taste for monochromatic ensembles). They went on to become cabaret singers, but when Adrienne runs off with a wealthy suitor, the newly christened Coco must go it alone until she meets gentleman farmer Étienne Balsan (Benoît Poelvoorde). She lives comfortably at his chateau, but he refuses to take her out in public, so she puts her skills as a seamstress to good use and designs outfits for his lady friends, like Emilienne (Emmanuelle Devos), an actress. Chanel's situation improves further when British investor Arthur "Boy" Capel (Alessandro Nivola with an impeccable French accent) enters the scene. Her working-class origins present less of a problem with Capel, though the couple will have other issues with which to contend. In the meantime, he gives her the money to open her own Parisian studio, and the film ends with the tweed suit-clad Chanel of the popular imagination. Until that time, writer-director Anne Fontaine (The Girl from Monaco) presents a very different character, a woman who wasn't worldly or sophisticated, but who saw no reason why fashion--or "style," as she called it--should be complicated or ...
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DVD Release Date: February 16, 2010
Runtime: 105 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics

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