|Editor's Note: The Cinema and Visual Culture Studies is producing the Fashion Film Festival on Oct. 9. The three films will screen for free throughout the day. See the schedule at the end of the article.|
“Coco Avant Chanel”
reviewed by mathematics student, Sofia Bieranowski
“Coco Avant Chanel” is a French film that focuses, as the title depicts, on the life of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel before her work redefined fashion. The film, while an excellent depiction of Coco’s unique personality, does not give much insight into her inspiration for her work but focuses on her love life and the impact it has on her career.
“Coco Avant Chanel” begins when Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (played by Audrey Tautou) and her sister, Adrienne, are being dropped off at an orphanage by their father as a result of the death of their mother. 15 years later, Coco and Adrienne are working as seamstresses by day and in music halls at night, pairing to sing and dance. It is here that Adrienne falls in love, and begins her own life separate from Coco, leaving Coco to fend for herself after the girls are fired from the hall.
Coco invites herself to the estate of her lover from the hall, Etienne Balsan, (Benoit Poelvoorde) and begins to incorporate herself into his life, impressing his friends with her witty character and unique style. She begins making hats for one of the lady friends of Balsan, and her hats slowly gain popularity. Coco then begins making clothes for her clients as well. Soon, she meets another man and falls in love, but her suitor is unavailable. However, he encourages her to take her skill and passion further than private clientele, and the work we know of Coco Chanel begins.
Although the film did not play out how expected, I was very intrigued throughout, curious to see what quirky side of Coco would come out next, or what new outfit she would show up wearing. Audrey Tautou does an excellent job of portraying Coco Chanel and all of her characteristics. Passion and severity are thick in every scene, the viewer all too aware of the loneliness Coco tries to play off as she works her way through each situation and relationship. The film ends with a fashion show of her work known to society today, but her face still expresses the theme of sacrifice as the story concludes.
Fashion Film Festival:
Oct. 9, Cline Library Assembly Hall, Free
Sponsored by Cinema and Visual Cultural Studies, the Merchandising program in the School of Communication, College of Arts and Letters, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and School of Communication.
There will be fashion shows before the 3 p.m. showing and 7 p.m. showing by the Merchandising program in the School of Communication. Students will be modeling vintage clothing as well as the latest styles for fall.
12:30 p.m.--“Funny Face” directed by Stanley Donen, starring Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, 1957, 103 min., NR
3 p.m.--“Coco Avant Chanel” (Coco Before Chanel,) directed by Anne Fontaine, starring Audrey Tautou, Alessandro Nivola, Emmanuelle Devos, 2009, 105 min., PG-13. Screened in French with English subtitles.
7 p.m.-- “September Issue,” directed by R.J. Cutler, starring Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, 2009, 90 min., PG-13.