Pin It
Favorite

Not Amèlie 

Audrey Tautou has found a character to finally end the typecasting. Nice for her, but what about us?

click to enlarge art14424.jpg

Before her name became synonymous with French couture, perfumes and other luxury goods, Gabrielle Chanel was a girl of few prospects. By the age of 12, she was a motherless child who was then raised in an orphanage after her father abandoned his children. There she was trained as a seamstress, which is the trade she took up once she left, while also performing by night with her sister in cabarets. In the clubs she acquired the nickname Coco, a name she disliked but that unfortunately stuck.

Coco (Audrey Tautou) and her sister, Adrienne (Marie Gillain), seem to have harbored hopes for careers on the stage, although their main objective was the finding of rich suitors because, really, what careers were open in 1893 to women of modest means? Fontaine’s biopic of Chanel’s early years could be the biography of almost any upwardly mobile woman of the time. The film often calls to mind another 2009 film, Cheri, which is based on stories by Chanel’s contemporary Colette and is set among the world of courtesans and kept women. Coco Before Chanel shows us those years in which Coco lived with the aristocratic playboy Étienne Balsan (Benoit Poelvoorde) and suffered for her love of Arthur “Boy” Capel (Alessandro Nivola). Mostly, however, we see Chanel as a dispassionate and aloof playmate who never fi nds the happiness she desires. Fontaine (The Girl From Monaco) also shows Chanel’s individual sense of style as she strips off the frou-frou from dresses and hats and — voilà — transforms articles of clothing into visions that are uniquely hers.

Tautou has long sought a role that might extricate her from permanent typecasting as the elfin charmer Amélie, and she has found such a character in Coco Chanel, whose brass tacks attitude and strong sense of self separate her from the lovelorn girls. There’s not a whole lot more to Coco Before Chanel than this. It’s a perfectly nice period piece and biographical backgrounder, but the film feels as though it’s a meal of tasty side dishes that lacks a main course. 

Tags:

  • Pin It
  |  

Latest in Film

  • Swing and a Miss
  • Swing and a Miss

    Hands of Stone can't carve out a distinctive space among boxing biopics
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Texas Heat
  • Texas Heat

    Hell or High Water is the crime drama you've been waiting all summer for
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Gun Show
  • Gun Show

    Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are armed and dangerous in the true story War Dogs
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Marjorie Baumgarten

  • Texas Heat
  • Texas Heat

    Hell or High Water is the crime drama you've been waiting all summer for
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Math Problem
  • Math Problem

    The Man Who Knew Infinity is inspiring, but also a slog
    • Jun 2, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Still Celebrating

    Boy George and Culture Club paved the way for genre- and gender-bending rock stars
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Seashell Secrets
  • Seashell Secrets

    Song of the Sea is a beautiful story of siblings struggling to cope and understand each other
    • Feb 25, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation