Coco Before Chanel [Coco avant Chanel] (2009)
Starring Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola, Marie Gillain
Directed by Anne Fontaine
Going into this movie I expected a tale of how Coco Chanel became a fashion giant, how she built her empire. Instead, I was treated to a simple love story, that funnily enough, was pretty devoid of love. This is definitely not my general type of movie. I have nothing against a good romantic movie, it’s just not a genre I’d specifically pick over something I’m more interested in. I find so many romantic movies to be formulaic and boring, so I generally overlook them. Coco Before Chanel is without a doubt a slow, plodding film, but it has a purpose and it builds towards it well.
The film opens with Coco as a small child, her father dropping her off at the orphanage. This abandonment instills within her a reluctance to trust men and influences her later decisions. The film jumps forward to when Coco is about 20 or so and singing at a saloon. She is noticed by the Baron Balsan (Benoît Poelvoorde) and the two develop a relationship. This gives her a foot into the upper class of French society and through Coco’s determination she remains true to herself and her personal style.