Thursday 31 Jul
 
 

Power Pyramid - The God Drums

Power Pyramid doesn’t have much patience for nonsense. That appears to be the takeaway from the Oklahoma City quintet’s last 10 months, which brought The God Drums in September, the Insomnia EP in January and its latest, self-titled effort in July.

07/29/2014 | Comments 0

TJ Mayes - "When Love Comes Down"

’50s era rock ’n’ roll had been long overdue for a rebirth. Thankfully, the stockpile of capable luminaries has not been in short supply over the past few years. 

07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Boare - "playdatshit"

The world is in the midst of an electronic music renaissance, and you find most of this boon of producers laying claim to the club-friendly, bass-dropping variety, holing up in the the free-flowing world of hip-hop beatmaking or pitching their tent on the out-there, boundary-pushing EDM camp.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broncho - "Class Historian"

Broncho has never been hurting in the hook department. The success of the trio’s 2011 debut, Can’t Get Past the Lips, was predicated mostly on its ability to marry melodies with kinetic guitar riffs and anarchic energy. Yet we’ve heard nothing to the degree of pure pop catchiness on display in “Class Historian,” the new single from Broncho’s upcoming sophomore album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0
Newsletter
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Biopic follows struggle of a...
Music
 

Biopic follows struggle of a fashion icon in 'Coco Before Chanel'


Mike Robertson November 19th, 2009

A biopic is kind of like reality TV, but with people you're actually interested in. It generally involves taking a famous person's biography, cutting out some of the boring stuff while ignoring ...

coco

A biopic is kind of like reality TV, but with people you're actually interested in. It generally involves taking a famous person's biography, cutting out some of the boring stuff while ignoring other stuff that doesn't support the story you want to tell, and voila: a movie audiences will pay to see.

The film screens Friday and Saturday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

"Coco avant Chanel" " or "Coco Before Chanel" for those of us who don't know what "avant" means " is just such a biopic. It takes a selective, truncated look at Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel as she struggles through her young womanhood to transubstantiate herself into a 20th-century fashion icon.

We meet young Gabrielle in 1893, being dumped at a convent/orphanage at age 10 (newcomer Lisa Cohen) by her father. Prophetically, the nuns teach Gabrielle to work as a seamstress. Fifteen years later, Gabrielle (Audrey Tautou, "The Da Vinci Code") is working as a seamstress with her sister, Adrienne (Marie Gillain), in Moulin.

One night, while singing for change, they meet Etienne Balsan (Benoît Poelvoorde), an aristocratic millionaire who's slumming in town while he fulfills his military obligations. He takes a liking to Gabrielle and begins calling her "Coco" after a song about a dog she sings with Adrienne.

HAT HOBBY
After her sister takes up with a man and moves out, Coco seizes a chance and pays a visit to Balsan, who reluctantly lets her stay at his chateau outside Paris. There, Coco learns how to ride horses, hobnob with his rich friends and take up hat-making as a hobby.

By-and-by Englishman Arthur Capel (Alessandro Nivola, "The Eye") comes around on the party circuit, and Coco falls in love with him. Balsan, with whom she has been carrying on an affair of financial convenience, is mildly jealous.

Throughout, Coco spends a lot of time hunched in corners, chain-smoking and making snarky comments about the other women's dresses and big, feathered hats.

"Coco Before Chanel" bears a lot of similarities to the recent biopic about Amelia Earhart. Both movies are true to their periods, depicting strong women who swam against the tide of their times' gender expectations.

Both movies also feature insipid attempts to create dramatic love triangles that lack actual drama. The relationship between Capel, Chanel and Balsan is too congenial and civilized to warrant real tension. No one hits anyone else in the mouth, screams or even throws a cocktail against a wall. Balsan simply states his jealousy, and everyone moves on.

Still, "Coco" has more teeth than "Amelia." The superior character development makes the ending sadder, and Tautou has more je ne sais quoi than Hilary Swank, which is saying something.

However, the film fails to reveal anything fundamental about the importance of Chanel or her times. For one thing, the movie almost totally ignores World War I, which had to have affected everyone involved. For another, director Anne Fontaine (who co-wrote) decided to focus on Chanel's love life which, while somewhat entertaining, isn't that interesting. "Mike Robertson

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close