Coco Before Chanel "In order to be irreplaceable," said the legendary French couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, "one must always be different." The very feminine, very inward-looking French biopic… Coco Before Chanel "In order to be irreplaceable," said the legendary French couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, "one must always be different." The very feminine, very inward-looking French biopic… 2009-09-25 PG-13 PT110M Biography Drama Alessandro Nivola Benoit Poelvoorde Audrey Tautou Sony Pictures Classics
Movie Review

Coco Before Chanel (2009)

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Coco Before Chanel | STRIKE A POSE Audrey Tautou and Marie Gillain are off to the races in Coco Before Chanel
Image credit: Chantal Thomine-Desmazures
STRIKE A POSE Audrey Tautou and Marie Gillain are off to the races in Coco Before Chanel
EW's GRADE
B

Details Limited Release: Sep 25, 2009; Rated: PG-13; Length: 110 Minutes; Genres: Biography, Drama; With: Alessandro Nivola, Benoit Poelvoorde and Audrey Tautou; Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

''In order to be irreplaceable,'' said the legendary French couturier Gabrielle ''Coco'' Chanel, ''one must always be different.'' The very feminine, very inward-looking French biopic Coco Before Chanel examines the influences that made Chanel so different — and so irreplaceable — the way an observant fashion student might deconstruct an haute couture garment to understand how it's built. The woman who became Chanel grew up a poor, skinny orphan in a convent school, where she learned sewing as a trade. She idled in her early years as a cabaret singer, lived with one protective rich man while falling in love with another, and hewed to a life of unmarried 
 independence that hid a tough, sad heart.

Coco Before Chanel is dreamiest when 
 director Anne Fontaine — working through muse Audrey Tautou — views the world through young Coco's eyes, literally. We see the girl look at nuns' habits and, later, admire her lovers' masculine wardrobe; the next thing you know, she's cutting up men's shirts and freeing generations of women from the tyranny of corsets and flounce. Tautou is a fascinating, unsmiling, petite presence with a severe brow and an androgynous appeal, so much so that I wish Alessandro Nivola (Junebug) were a more robust beau as Arthur ''Boy'' Capel, the love of Chanel's life. Still, Tautou looks great in the boy clothes — the foundation of Coco Chanel's womanly empire. B

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Originally posted Sep 23, 2009 Published in issue #1068 Oct 02, 2009 Order article reprints