Speaking as a keen devotee both of French films and films without an extensive narrative to drive a plot (and trust me, I've seen plenty of those in my time!), you would expect me to enjoy Coco Before Chanel. In fact, I found the film somewhat shapeless and undramatic. Ravishing to look at, beautifully acted and correct in almost every detail, but with insufficient substance to fill the 2 hours allotted. I kept wanting something different to happen, but it never did.
The title is the giveaway: Coco before Chanel, indeed. Coco after Chanel is glossed over in the text epilogue displayed after the film has ended. Are we to assume Coco's life during these years of huge success so undramatic they did not warrant any screen time? Why not Coco Chanel's full life story? Compared to the La Vie En Rose, the entire film fails to deliver the goods, but I can't believe that is simply because less happened to Chanel than to Piaf.
Admittedly, the subject and her relative lack of emotional intensity does not help, portrayed with accuracy but no real charm by the excellent Tautou. A car crash betrays the only real feeling in the film. Seldom do we get inside the character to learn her inner drive. Surely there must have been more layers of the Chanel onion to peel? At any rate, the character and the film appear distant and uninvolving, which is a great shame.