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Chanel Solitaire [VHS] [1981]


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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 12 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lush, compelling portrait of Coco Chanel's life and passions 13 Nov. 2005
By Another Opinion - Published on Amazon.com
Coco Chanel is quoted as having said: "So many worries are gone when one decides not to be something but to be someone." How well that describes Coco herself, a strong-willed woman who decided to "be someone" and, through tremendous persistence and drive, ended up doing just that -- in the process changing women's fashions forever. Gone were the corsets and restricting outfits women had suffered for ages, and in came comfortable clothing - (the "little black dress," the shift, bell-bottom pants)- that allowed women freedom of movement without forfeiting a feminine "look."

Coco was larger than life, and no film based on the life of a legend can ever do such a person justice. I am writing this review to balance out the less-than-positive reviews by two other reviewers as I truly enjoyed this film, and I feel that it more than succeeds at accomplishing what it sets out to do. And that is to let us experience what it was that drove Coco Chanel, and what personal themes defined her life and her craft. Why was it that such an attractive, larger-than-life individual, surrounded by suitors, admirers and lovers always felt herself to be "solitaire?" Women viewers may respond to this treatment of her life more than men for the way this film seeks to answer that question. (To answer another reviewer), this movie was never meant to be a serious biography of Coco Chanel -- it is a dramatization of the first half of her life, with an emphasis on her great loves (played by Rutger Hauer and Timothy Dalton, both of whom give outstanding performances.)

The theme of this film can be seen in the title: CHANEL: Solitaire ("alone"). It centers around the theme of love and loss that lived within the heart of Coco Chanel, and it is beautifully played out here, with high production values and marvelous performances by Marie-France Pisier as Coco, and a superb international cast. (Perhaps with the exception of Karen Black). This dramatization of a good part of her story gives us a glimpse at why it was that Coco was driven to "be her own person." Could it be that because she came from nothing and had no one but herself to "belong to," Coco was somehow freed to create herself as whatever "someone" she wished to become? Perhaps. Being "solitaire" (alone, abandoned and heartbroken as a child) may have made it easier for Coco to eschew convention with her life choices, with her relaxed "uni-sex" designs and her personal lifestyle. That would truly be one of life's ironies. Coco refused to forfeit her dreams - to escape the pain and stigma of her past, she created and recreated herself throughout her life, always taking herself and her designs to a new level.

But, whatever the forces were that allowed her to come from nothing and create herself as the legend she is, the film does a fine job of portraying her life. She was not only a path-breaking designer but a remarkable businesswoman, and became one of the richest women in the world at a time when such accomplishments were rare, if not largely unknown, for any woman who did not inherit or marry into wealth. We see much of that in this film. Yet, the image of her that remains after the film has ended is the one of Coco standing alone on the spiral stair. That image, seen at both the opening and the finale of the film, serves as "brackets" for her personal story. It represents the central theme of this telling of Coco's life: even with her immense success, her greatest passions and yearnings remained unfulfilled. In the midst of all that glamour and greatness, Coco Chanel remained always "Solitaire."
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A casting triumph. 28 Oct. 1999
By Janine S. Thrasher - Published on Amazon.com
An enjoyable movie with excellent casting. Timothy Dalton's portrayal of Boy Capel was brilliant and Marie as "Coco" was perfect. Their love affair reminded me of "Out of Africa". Dalton's fans should love this one because of the numerous scenes in which he is featured. (In a few scenes, I thought for a moment I was watching Peter O'Toole.)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early life & loves of Coco Chanel: 9 Nov. 2009
By SusieQ - Published on Amazon.com
When you compare this film to recent subpar efforts to film Coco Chanel's life, such as, Lifetime TV channel's "Chanel" movie with Shirley MacLaine (hideously fictionalized & badly acted) and "Coco Before Chanel" (meh, two out of five stars), CHANEL SOLITAIRE still shines brightest. (Even though it too is highly fictionalized.)

CHANEL SOLITAIRE tells the story of Chanel's early life and loves dramatically and with romantic flair; in fact, I equate watching this movie to reading a good romantic novel. Marie-France Pisier as Coco gives a thoughtful, at times touching performance, particularly in her angry scene with Timothy Dalton near the end of the film. Pisier shows Chanel in all her intelligent, independent, stubborn nature, and yet equally conveys her longing for someone in her life that she can depend on. Timothy Dalton as Boy Capel (Coco's great love) and Rutgar Hauer as Etienne Balsan, are well cast and give solid performances. And this movie's got a great soundtrack.

Is CHANEL SOLITAIRE a great movie - no. But it's a well crafted; well performed, I want-to-watch-a-romantic-tearjerker, of a movie.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I want to be alone" 18 Feb. 2015
By Amaranth - Published on Amazon.com
Coco Chanel's life has had several interpretations- from Shirley Maclaine (Coco Chanel) to the talented Audrey Tautou (Coco Before Chanel as well as a reimagining of her love affair with Igor Stravinsky (Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky) "Chanel Solitaire" is a surprisingly fast-moving Chanel biopic... it only covers her life until 1919. It begins with Chanel at a fashion show... and the rest of the movie is a flashback. We see the young Coco at a convent. She's adopted by her aunts in Paris&there she meets horseman Etienne Balson (Rutger Hauer) Hauer's role is nuanced. While he comes across as a masculine gentleman, in his opening scenes he's a soldier, at other times he's in drag, and he has a bromance with Boy Capel (Timothy Dalton) Hauer is one of those rare Frenchmen with a very pronounced Germanic accent (it's like Michael Fassbender speaking German with a rich Irish brogue) Chanel sets up a hat shop, Capel becomes her lover&she branches out into fashion. The film is campy&over the top, especially with Karen Black as Balson's mistress. When Capel dumps Chanel to marry a rich English noblewoman, Chanel mourns by cutting her hair, taking a female lover&inventing Chanel No. 5.

"Chanel Solitaire" has the feel of a made-for-TV movie. Marie-France Pisier is sort of a cameo in her own movie; Dalton&Hauer are stronger actors. Dalton's character does spy work, so it's no wonder he would be cast as James Bond (and Boy Capel, in the movie&real life, was a ladies' man) The problematic aspects of Chanel's character are glossed over (no wonder the movie glosses over WWII) The film has good pacing, though sometimes it seems to move too fast. One moment Chanel is meeting Boy Capel, next she's his mistress of the moment (that escalated quickly) One moment she's a haberdasher, the next she's got a fashion house. Good, campy fun. It's dressed with somewhere to go... and that is to entertain.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love Timothy Dalton, this is a must see. 25 Feb. 2015
By xhaxha - Published on Amazon.com
If you love Timothy Dalton, this is a must see. Also Rutger Hauer is splendid and their final scene together is truly unique and moving. Worth the price of the video right there. Marie-France Pisier is alright but not quite at the level of Mr. Dalton although in fairness, since she has so much more of the film to carry, this should also be placed at the feet of the director and screenwriter.
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