Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Stories of Coco Chanel: Two reviews
However, I thought the MacLaine version superior because it doesn't just give us a short glimpse into the salty beginnings of a legend, but alternates with her at the end of her career, after she's becoming a household name with the suits and the little black dress. Tautou is good, as the moody, determined, ambitious Coco, but we see very little of her inspiration and why she bothers to become a fashionista. Bobulova does a better job making it clear she was mining one of the few avenues open to women and using the only skills she possessed besides her body. They show how her style evolved, and why she went the directions she chose (expensive fabric wasn't available during the war years so she wanted to make clothes women could afford and replicate - jersey became fashionable and corsets were done).
However, both films fail to give a clear picture of the woman. Wikipedia adds a lot more about her involvement with both sides during WWII, and her decline as a French designer due to perceived collaborations with the Nazis, and her fan base switching to British and American audiences. She also had affairs with many famous people, and I guess a new film opened at Cannes last year about her time with Igor Stravinsky, but it's not on DVD yet. Both are good films, but whitewash a much more complicated woman. If you're only going to watch one of these, I'd watch Coco Chanel for the more interesting characters. Coco Avant Chanel - 3 stars/lambs, Coco Chanel - 4 stars/lambs
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