Coco Before Chanel (2009)

Coco Avant ChanelSeveral years after leaving the orphanage to which her father never returned for her, Gabrielle Chanel (Audrey Tautou) finds herself working in a provincial bar.   She’s both a seamstress for the performers and a singer, earning the nickname Coco from the song she sings nightly with her sister.  Baron Balsan gives her an entree into French society and a chance to develop her gift for designing increasingly popular hats.  Hilarity ensues when she falls in love with English businessman Arthur Capel further opportunities open up, though life becomes ever more complicated.

Trivia: From 1934 to 1971 Coco Chanel made the Hotel Ritz, Paris, France her home. A suite, in honor of her memory, has been named after her: the Coco Chanel Suite.
The Characters:  Coco Chanel became a famous designer and was far ahead of her time in fashions, eventually working for over 60 years until her death in 1971.  This is the story of Coco before she became the Coco Chanel everyone knows.
The Actors:  Audrey Tautou is beautiful.  She is a wonderful actress but most casual American movie goers only know her from The Da Vinci Code.  If you have only seen her in The Da Vinci Code I highly recommend this movie or Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain.
The Experience:  This is one of those dreaded “foreign movies” that is hard to convince most Americans to watch because you will have to read subtitles.  It really makes me sad that people would rather watch a terrible American movie rather then this wonderful picture just because that don’t want to read.  These are good movies people!  Don’t limit yourself.  Um, sorry, I’m stepping off of my soapbox.  So why am I reviewing this now?  Because it was nominated of course, where have you been this week.  Well, what would a movie about the early life of a fashion icon be nominated for?  Yep, costume design.  I never thought I would be reviewing the costume design of a movie but here I am.  Coco Chanel was known for creating very simple but beautiful designs and you can actually watch the progression of her style as you go through the film.  Tautou really stands out against the gaudy dresses of the early 20th century french society.  There is one scene where you see Coco standing on a pier.  It is a long shot and the pier is full of other women dressed in their best white dresses for a day at the beach.  Your eye very quickly settles on Coco even though she is not looking at the camera  and is mixed in with the others.