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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing
I'm giving this a five to make up for all the imbeciles who have criticized a French film for being in French, and the other imbeciles who think it should have had more explosions in it. Actually, I thought it was a four.

I don't know how accurate the details of Coco Chanel's life are as shown, but it conveys the period beautifully. I think the French do...
Published on 7 Feb 2010 by Movie Buff

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style over substance
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...
Published on 16 Jun 2010 by Andy Millward


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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, 7 Feb 2010
This review is from: Coco Before Chanel [DVD] (DVD)
I'm giving this a five to make up for all the imbeciles who have criticized a French film for being in French, and the other imbeciles who think it should have had more explosions in it. Actually, I thought it was a four.

I don't know how accurate the details of Coco Chanel's life are as shown, but it conveys the period beautifully. I think the French do historical films very well - partly because of their attention to detail, and partly because they concentrate on showing how things were rather than preaching or disapproving.

Audrey Tatou is in every scene and is rivetting. She plays Chanel as the relaistic and determined person she must have been. The other actors are good too, no wrong notes.

And it's stunningly photographed. Whether it's the inside of the convent, the ballroom in her lover's chateau, or the beach at Deauville, you can't take your eyes off it. For myself, I would have liked to know more about the fabrics and the clothes, but I realise I'm in a minority. I had expected to watch this film once and move on, but now I know I'll watch it again - well written, very well acted and beautifully photographed.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Avant, 21 Jan 2010
This review is from: Coco Before Chanel [DVD] (DVD)
The Guardian stated in its review of Coco Before Chanel that it is dull. I have to disagree with that completely. This is elegant, refined, inspiring and as an added bonus it features the lovely Audrey Tautou.

Chanel as the subject matter of a film is interesting as when you look at the company's many high end products you realise that you know very little if anything about the woman whose name sits so proudly and smartly them. I loved the simplistic approach this movie took to Chanel's life and the novel idea of analysing her before her success. There are so many gross, hysterical films now that are almost pornographic and it is wonderful to come across a film that is controlled and tasteful.

The story begins with a heart breaking scene, Chanel and her sister abandoned by their father. The DVD extras reveal that not all the scenes should be taken at face value and that because Chanel used to exaggerate certain aspects of her life to convey and place emphasis on social problems, the script was written in the same manner. The plot is a journey of hope, expectation, disappointment, despair, love and achievement. The film is structured in such way that it is impossible to not feel anything but admiration for Chanel because of her courage and her intellect.

Character wise the film is aided by a strong supporting cast who all come across as believable. Boy in the film (Nivola) is the most intriguing character after Chanel. The right depth is given to Chanel's character. None of the segments of the film feel rushed and you always believe that Tautou is her.

I can only describe the script as beautiful. A thing of joy. It really is very pleasant. As the film is subtitled it helps you to take in the dialogue more than you would have done if it had been acted in English. The authenticity of the film is ensured through the use of French in the film and thankfully you do not have to endure actors speaking their lines in a multitude of accents as so often happens in period dramas set in Europe.

The locations used at the different points of Chanel's early life range from squalid to lush. It all looks bona fide.

My only complaint is the very end of the ending which is why I only gave it 4 stars. As with a lot of biopics the film ends with a sort of bullet point list of what happened next to her. I did not like this as it is so often used and just feels tired. Furthermore, I cannot believe that there is anyone who doesn't know of Chanel in a fashion sense so to have to read that she was an icon in that world was a bit silly. I also think that if the screen writer thought that those extra details weren't important enough to portray on screen then you shouldn't have to read about them. That was the only thing I didn't like about the film. Other than that minor point I have to say that the last scene is so gorgeous, staggeringly sumptuous. It is memorable picture and it has panache.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style over substance, 16 Jun 2010
By 
Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, 13 Mar 2010
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SilentSinger (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Coco Before Chanel [DVD] (DVD)
Audrey Tatou portrays Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel before she became famous for the fashion house which still bears her name. Being a French film it's subtitled which made it all the more authentic and didn't bother myself and my husband at all unlike some other reviewers! It tells Coco's story from when she and her sister are abandoned by their father at a Catholic orphanage as children where she first learns her trade as a seamstress, their subsequent career as caberet artistes and the slow road to her eventually becoming a milliner and ultimately a coturier. In many ways it's fairly slow moving and languid but Tatou's beguiling performance and the stunning scenery more than compensate for that.

Coco's relationships with Etienne Balsan with whom she enjoys the taste of the high life and Arthur 'Boy' Capel are both senstively handled and it's interesting to see the juxtoposition of her sister's relationship with a Baron whom she remains a mistress of for many years. Of course, we should always remember that in France Mistresses enjoyed a certain amount of social status and probably more than their English counterparts.

Although the ending is somewhat rushed, this film remains a stand alone piece. I thought that Tatou's central performance was mesmerising and that she really 'became' Coco Chanel in the process.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classy film, 7 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Coco Before Chanel [DVD] (DVD)
Judging by the reviews here ,this seems to be a love or hate film. Well I loved it, the small scenes were engrossing & the big scenes sumptious. All the acting hit the right mark for me .My other half loved it too & he didn't even want to watch it, so not a 'ladies film 'as such.I've no problem with subtitles myself but if you have - beware of foreign films !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film!, 4 Mar 2010
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S. Ball (S Yorks (UK)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Coco Before Chanel [DVD] (DVD)
I'd recommend this film for the photography, the fashion and the French! Romantic and very sophistcated!
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64 of 74 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The style is everything, 14 Aug 2009
By 
Humpty Dumpty (Wall St, Upton Snodsbury) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Coco Before Chanel [DVD] (DVD)
This is part 1 of the biopic of Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, dealing with the period before her time as a top Parisian designer and focuses on her journey from a Catholic orphanage to her debut on the catwalk. The film is at heart a typical rags to riches tale, mainly focusing on the relationships Coco had with aristo Etienne Balsan (Benoît Poelvoorde) and the love of her life, industrialist Arthur Capel (Alessandro Nivola), and it's only once we meet these two that things liven up a bit. Whilst staying with Balsan, an unlikely love triangle develops which forms the core of the film. The film is at pains to allude to her as a modern woman, ahead of her time and forging an independent career rather than being defined by the mores of the time.

As you would expect, style defines this movie, and almost everything of merit derives from it. The costumes are suitably chic, especially the over-the-top frocks that lead to Chanel's first dalliance with the designing minefield. The cinematography is faultless; languid and beautiful, with each chapter in the story of Coco's early years lingered over. The leisured pace of director Anne Fontaine's presentation of one determined woman's struggle to express herself through her work does, however, teeter on the verge of torpor, particularly in scene-selection and I think also in the editing. Had the day been a little warmer, I might even have nodded off.

Audrey Tautou (and let's rejoice in her presence - the part was originally offered to Keira Knightley) finally manages to shake off the typecasting which has dogged her since Amelie. Her face seems tougher and her voice an octave lower than we are used to, hinting at worldliness; in her pyjamas, though, she is more Yoko than Coco.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars likeable but unconvincing, 18 Sep 2011
By 
tallmanbaby (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Coco Before Chanel [DVD] (DVD)
Audrey Tatou is a tremendously attractive and likeable actress and this film relies heavily on her. It tells the story of the early life of Coco Chanel the fashion designer. For non fashion audiences worth noting that over her life she had close associations with a wide number of rich and powerful men, including Igor Stravinsky. During the second world war she was accused of collaborating with the Nazis, and her work was unpopular in France after the war. At one time she was the richest woman in the world.

The film is consistently attractive to look at, it regularly drops in little explanations for signature pieces of Chanel style, like the origin of the use of jersey or the matelot horizontal stripe. It is also nice to see Benoît Poelvoorde who was the rather matter of fact killer in Man Bites Dog.

I have a few problems with the film.

Firstly the pacing, it is incredibly slow, it pretty much drags from beginning to end, though nice enough to look at. Having said that the overall chronology is a mystery, presumably the odd decade must zip past in there, but it is unclear from the film, for example when was the first world war in relation to any of the action.

Secondly the characters live in a world that we might describe as morally ambiguous, or just plain immoral. Wealthy men pick up mistresses and discard them on a whim. Women with appealing looks are content to play the system for what they can get out of it. However rather than allowing any taint to apply to Coco Chanel she is depicted as a rather innocent soul, inadvertently caught up in such things, rather than a ruthless gold-digger. Initially it is painful to watch the determined Coco being drawn into an affair, but for the director she is like teflon, she is not corrupted, or indeed particularly affected by anything, merely picking up more fashion tips, ideas and contacts.

Finally, Coco was clearly a pragmatic and determined businesswoman, who succeeded through talent and considerable drive. As portrayed by Tatou she was an innocent naif who just happened along and would not say boo to a goose. I don't think that Coco got to be the richest woman in the world by just moping around a bit, getting picked up by the odd man and doing the odd bit of stitching.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coco Before Chanel, 4 Dec 2010
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This review is from: Coco Before Chanel [DVD] (DVD)
I've been waiting for this movie since I first read about it. Since I follow both Anne Fontaine and Audrey Tautou creative works I was pretty sure that this would be a DVD I would most certainly add to my collection. It also helps that I have always been interested in Chanel's work.

The movie is, of course, in French with English subtitles. While that may bother some movie goers it doesn't present a problem for me.

It's period faithful, slow moving and definitely an artist's movie. Anyone interested in high fashion or the society prior to WWII should enjoy this movie for the scenes alone. It seems to faithful to reacting the time periods without boring me to death.

This movie has joined my favorite watches for a cold rainy Sunday afternoon: Out of Africa and Coco Before Chanel and Ryan's Daughter should all compliment each other very nicely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars C'est qui qui a vu Coco, 5 Oct 2010
This review is from: Coco Before Chanel [DVD] (DVD)
C'est qui qui a vu Coco! Really nice movie for French and non-French people! Nothing heavy going compare to La Vie en Rose for example...
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Coco Before Chanel [DVD]
Coco Before Chanel [DVD] by Audrey Tautou (DVD - 2009)
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