Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wendy's Films of 2010 #58: Coco avant Chanel (2009)

My desire to see Coco avant Chanel had begun to wane when I finally picked it off the shelf. I wasn't sure that it would be as good as I had once hoped it would be, and though it didn't give me what I expected, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Rather than boistrous or colourful, this film snuck its way into my heart and without knowing I was absorbed in the life and mind of Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel. Wanting some way to escape the life she and her sister live as singers in a dingy tavern, Coco takes every opportunity to see a bigger world, even if it means living with a man who treats her like a whorish mistress.

The beauty of the film comes across in silences and the quiet yet revolutionary way that Coco changes the world of fashion for women. No corsets; no feathers, just twists on men's suits, or simple straw hats. The film combines her strides in fashion and her romance with a young man who sees what she is and does and finds it elegant rather than distasteful. Audrey Tautou is mesmerizing. I love the way she can express so much with one look, and how strong and feisty she is without being over the top. I'd say it's worth a look if you're into fashion, romance or films about strong women in a time when such things weren't so common.

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