Coco before Chanel

Coco before Chanel  

  Film Datasheet

Original Title Coco avant Chanel
Originale Language Francese
Country Francia, Belgio
Release date 2009
Running time 105 min
Genere Biographical, dramatic
Directed by Anne Fontaine
Based on Chanel and Her World

by Edmonde Charles-Roux

Written by Anne Fontaine Camille Fontaine
  Produced by Caroline Benio, Philippe Carcassonne, Carole Scotta, Simon Amal
Production company Haut et Court
  Distributed by Warner Bros
 Cinematography Christophe Beaucarne
 Edited by Luc Barnier
  Effetti speciali Alain Bignet, Régis Coque
 Film Composer Alexander Desplat
  Set Design Oliver Radot
Costume Design Catherine Leterrier
Makeup Design Corinne Maillard
Coco Audrey Tautou
Étienne Balsan Benoît Poelvoorde
Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel Alessandro Nivola
Adrienne Chanel Marie Gillain

Emilienne d’Alençon

Emmanuelle Devos

The film has received many nominations:

  • Premi Oscar 2010, Best Costume Design;
  • British Academy Film Award 2010: Best Film Not in the English Language, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Audrey Tautou), Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hair;
  • Premio César 2010: Best Costume Design, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Audrey Tautou), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Benoît Poelvoorde), Best Photo;
  • European Film Awards: People’s Choice Award for Best European Film, Best Composer, Best Costume Design;
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Foreign Language Film;
E ha ricevuto alcuni premi:
  • World Soundtrack Academy: Film Composer of the Year
  • Festival du film de Cabourg: Gold Swann Best Supporting Actor (Benoît Poelvoorde).
The film is based from the book “L’Irrégulière ou mon itinéraire Chanel” translated in English as “Chanel: Her Life, Her World – and the Woman Behind the Legend She Herself Created”by the writer Edmonde Charles-Roux, a biography of Coco Chanel.
The film grossed more than $ 50.8 million worldwide.


The film is the biography of the French designer Coco Chanel. It is set in France between the late 1800s and the early 1900s. The film begins with little Gabrielle and her sister as they are taken to the Aubazine orphanage. Here Gabrielle Chanel every Sunday for 15 years waits in vain for her father to come and take her back, but she will never arrive. When they reach the age of majority, with their sister, they go to Moulins, where by day they work as tailors in the back of a shop, while in the evening they perform in a café-cabaret, where they sing for an audience of drunken soldiers and prostitutes. It is in this café-cabaret that Gabrielle meets Etienne Balsan, a cavalry officer, who gives her the nickname of Coco, after having heard her sing the song “Qui qu’a vu Coco”.
After moved to the castle of Etienne Balsan, who keeps her hidden from his friends in high society, Coco lives between leisure and entertainment, maintained by her lover. Here she meets what will become the love of her life. Balsan introduces to her, Arthut Capel known as Boy, a wealthy Newcastle industrialist who falls in love with her.
They begin a relationship and Boy, who firmly believes in Coco’s abilities, offers her his financial help to open a shop in Paris, giving her wings to fly free to be herself.
This is the beginning of his career, but during his ascent, Boy Capel dies in a car accident. Coco, destroyed by the event, throws herself completely on the job. The film ends with Coco Chanel‘s first fashion show that marks the designer’s success, making her famous.

My review:

An elegant and engaging film, where the director Anne Fontaine has taken care of the details of the time. The costumes are faithfully reproduce; composed of bulky hats and flashy clothes in the upper classes; and the humble, minimalist and desaturated ones of Coco, strongly underline the economic gap between the various classes and the importance of the social status that given weight at the time.
The wonderful dresses of the Chanel collection of the time, which made available for the production of the film, make the adaptation even more realistic. The script has characterized the characters giving them depth, fully reflecting the conventions and ideas of the time in which it is set.
Photography is good. The recovery taken from Coco‘s point of view underline his innate predisposition for observation as a culture of life. The audacious close-ups on Audrey Tautou, perfect in the role of Coco Chanel, are able to load the character with passion and, through intense looks, delicate gestures and movements, succeeded in enchanting the viewer by keeping him glued to the screen through emotional hypnosis.  Audrey Tautou proved her great talent.
The plot takes place suave, involving the viewer. It strikes him intensely, and in a succession of emotions, such as happiness, sadness, uneasiness, grit, slips imperceptibly into the story, lives it fully and gets excited as if he were part of it.
Anne Fontaine, with this film, makes a psychological analysis of that era and of a woman, Coco Chanel, with the fundamental traits of her personality, such as grit and stubbornness. Thanks to the sobriety of her dresses created by her lover’s clothes recycling, to whom he gave character and femininity, he succeeded in flattening the social gap in an age where appearance was everything.
Coco uses her creativity as designer as a tool of power to free women from cultural conditioning and free herself from a life of submission. So he makes blank hats to think and simple clothes to emancipate a woman who lives in a male socio-political order.
Coco Chanel rebels and uses all the weapons she has to fight and go against what life is giving her. By imposing his style and his person, he transforms his destiny of poor and condescending seamstress, managing to become a famous stylist and a timeless icon.

Word of mouth…Scilla


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