© Warner Bros. Pictures Germany

Coco Chanel - Der Beginn einer Leidenschaft (Coco Before Chanel, Coco avant Chanel)
France 2009

Opening 13 Aug 2009

Directed by: Anne Fontaine
Writing credits: Edmonde Charles-Roux, Anne Fontaine, Camille Fontaine
Principal actors: Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola, Marie Gillain, Emmanuelle Devos

French director Anne Fontaine takes us into an idyllic world of the early years of Coco Chanel. Audrey Tautou landed into the perfect part since not only does she have designer’s looks, she has the spunk to play the part. However, since this storyline strays from the true life of Gabrielle Chanel and doesn’t really dive into the interesting details of her life, this film comes off as a simple romantic story of a person who just happened to be born at the right time. Who was Coco Chanel really? What made her become one of the most influential people of our time?

This movie comes off strange for those who know any thing about her life. In the movie Coco has a sister, but even that is not really clear. In reality she had five siblings: three brothers and two sisters. In the movie she was left at the orphanage at age six and was never to see her father again. In reality her mother died of tuberculosis when she was twelve years of age. At that point they were taken to the orphanage so the father could work, but they did see their relatives in the holidays. She learned to be a seamstress there and left at eighteen to work for a tailor. The movie does try to show how Coco Chanel revolutionized the garment industry, setting women free from the heavy garments and corsets which limited their movement. It also takes a subtle and respectful look into her love life, where two men, Etienne Balsan (Benoît Poelvoorde) and his best friend Boy Capel (Alessandro Nivola), battle for her affection. She takes financial and social advantages of both men, who in the end gave her a start in her future career. It would have been nice to see how she developed into this famous fashion designer instead of just this simple romantic tale. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)

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