Starring: Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola
Director: Anne Fontaine
Running Time: 105 mins
Coco Before Chanel (Coco avant Chanel) is a French film about the early life and career of legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel, and how she rose from showroom dancer to one of the world’s most iconic seamstresses.
A captivating biopic brought to life by striking performances, gorgeous visuals and genuine emotion throughout, director Anne Fontaine delivers the story of the early years of Coco Chanel in thoroughly memorable fashion throughout.
I know next to nothing about Chanel or fashion design in general, but that doesn’t mean that this film is in any way off limits. As detailed as it is, this is very much a personal drama over something that only fans of Chanel’s designs and clothes can enjoy, making it a thoroughly captivating watch for all.
Primarily, the story focuses on the romances that led Coco through her early years, from working as a dancer in a showroom to rubbing shoulders with France’s rich and famous, ultimately bringing her to the acclaim that she received for her groundbreaking designs.
And once again, while I know nothing about fashion or Chanel’s significance in the field, this film really opened my eyes to her achievements and importance to the world of fashion design, as her innovative minimalist style of fashion broke barriers in a world of frills and opulent dresses for women of the higher classes.
Admittedly, there’s not much in the way of resistance and conflict surrounding Chanel’s push for her own style of clothing – it’s actually accepted rather easily by others in this film. However, the main drama of the movie comes from her love affair with two men of the upper classes.
Alongside Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel is Benoît Poelvoorde, who plays an upper class gentlemen that brings Chanel into the world of the upper classes, only for her to go and fall in love with another man, an English businessman played by Alessandro Nivola.
The romance is the main crux of the film and of the story of how Chanel came to be the way she did, with a captivating conflict between the strong-willed woman and the institutionally powerful men of her time proving decisive in her ongoing push to bring a new kind of fashion to the world.
Complete with gorgeous visuals, set design and above all costume design, director Anne Fontaine does a wonderful job at bringing this story to life in such exquisite fashion, making it just as captivating and informative a biopic as it is enjoyable to watch. So, that’s why I’m giving Coco Before Chanel a 7.6 overall.