Review: Coco Before Chanel
Coco Before Chanel is an interesting mix of chick flick, biopic, period piece and history lesson on a fashion muse. We would not have it any other way. It is one of the most compelling films of the year and Audrey Tautou deserves serious Oscar consideration. There is no Coco Before Chanel without Tautou's trans-Atlantic triumph.
Coco Before Chanel, as directed by French auteur Anne Fontaine, should not only be considered for the Best Foreign Language Film, but SheKnows believes it is one of the best pictures of the year and should be in the Academy's new top 10 Best Picture contenders.
Chanel's life is known, or so it is believed. In Coco Before Chanel, the fashion legend and trendsetter begins this biopic with absolutely nothing – including a father who turns Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and her sister over to Catholic orphanage as a post-toddler. The image Fontaine paints as Coco's father drives away in his horse driven carriage burns throughout the French filmmaker's film.
Immediately, the audience is clued into the seeds that would spawn Chanel's world-changing vision. The influence of the white, pointed nun's headwear is impossible to miss strern throughout Chanel's future creations whether they hats or distinguished shoulder-centered upper body fashion.
Chanel's experience as, well, Coco's a virtual courtesan for a equine trainer who opens her eyes to the preppy-tending, designed-for-the-upper-crust-horse-enthusiast is a priceless look into how Coco became Chanel.
What also works on so many levels for a film biography of an international artist who is so well known is the fact that Chanel could not have achieved her position in the world without an observation or two million. Inherent in the medium of film is how the filmmaker must showcase the discovery of passion as a plot point to move along the story. In Coco Before Chanel, with the impeccably observant eyes of Tautou as an audiences guide, Fontaine could not have asked for a more priceless vehicle than the French actresses' eyes.
Watching Tautou witness and intake the world around her allows the Coco Before Chanel's Coco Chanel to be revealed to audiences as no literary biography, documentary or fictional account has managed in the time since the French fashion passed away in the '70s.
Coco Before Chanel pays tribute to the internationally universal themes of perseverance and passion that emanates from one's belief in the inherent belief of those who recognize their date with destiny and embrace it.
Chanel is a genius, but with the education that is Coco Before Chanel, SheKnows has never seen the First Lady of Fashion as anything less than one of the world's most influential people in history and not simply significant for fashion.