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Movie Review: Coco Before Chanel

Alternate Title: Poor Little Poor Girl

Story: What's a French girl to do in the early 20th century if one is not born into money or station? The options, sadly, were minimal. Young Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel was dumped into an orphanage at 12 along with her little sister. Fast forward 15 years, we find Coco singing for her supper and sewing on the side. We quickly learn that Coco is no one's fool. She hooks up with a wealthy man and becomes his upstairs plaything. She insinuates herself into his group and before long she is breaking fashion rules by wearing men's altered clothes, featherless hats and aghast - sans corset. You would think that all of the above would make interesting fodder for a movie, but alas, I found it wanting. It plodded along with very little passion, chemistry or excitement.

There was far too much dressing and too little protein. The meat of the film was missing. I got the district impression much of the 'truth' was being left out about the life of young Coco. (read my trivia category to see why). Yes, I got the point that Coco was her own woman and continually broke the rules for someone living during those depressing times for women but by film's end, I just did not give a hoot.

The film was directed by Anne Fontaine and written by Ms. Fontaine and Camille Fontaine, Christopher Hampton and Jacques Fieschi was adapted from the book “L’Irrégulière ou Mon Itinéraire Chanel” by Edmonde Charles-Roux.

Acting: Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel is just fine. She does a lot of penetrating staring and clearly the camera is in love with her., Benoît Poelvoorde as her wealthy lover, Étienne Balsan, had the best part and did a fine job. Alessandro Nivola as Boy Capel, also was interesting. Marie Gillain as Coco's less realistic sister, Adrienne was good too.

Trivia: Coco Chanel was a 'horizontal collaborator' during WW11. Chanel's colluded with the Nazis and after the war she was arrested and charged with war crimes and then was mysteriously released. For more on her Nazi past go to this article. http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/47100,news,chanelrsquos-nazi-past-left-out-of-new-audrey-tautou-film. Chanel No. 5 was the first fragrance from Parisian couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, and has been on sale continuously since its introduction in 1921. It has been described as "the world's most legendary fragrance", and remains the company's most famous perfume. The company estimates that a bottle is sold worldwide every 30 seconds. Audrey Tautou nearly did not get the chance to play the wonderful Amélie Poulain, as director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was considering British actress Emily Watson for the role of Amélie. Alessandro Nivola went to Yale University and received his degree in English.

Predilection: None

Critters: Horses and dogs

Food: Coco seemed to exist on champagne.

Sex Spectrum: Some rolling around in bed.

Blatant Product Placement: Chanel, of course.

Soundtrack: I cannot remember one note.

Opening Titles: A sequence showing little Coco and her sister being dropped off at the orphanage.

Visual Art: The production values and details of France during the time were excellent.

Theater Audience: Not too crowded for the first showing but there was a line going in for the second showing.

Weather: Ah, France. It is lovely.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I drifted a bit.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Unless you are a fashionista you might just want to rent this film. Some other films that star Audrey Tautou are Amelie, the awful DaVinci Code, Dirty, Pretty Things.

Length: Under two hours

LOBO HOWLS: 5 (for Chanel #5)