Coco Before Chanel has a little too much in common with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The film, starring Audrey Tatou, is simply an origins story that’s a bit chicer than its superhero counterpart, thanks in part to Tatou’s performance. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same film: a biopic in which events transpire but nothing ever really happens.
Coco Before Chanel tells the story of world-famous French designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel before she became famous. Her journey from an orphanage to being a kept woman and budding designer is something that should be incredibly compelling. So little is known about Chanel’s formative years that director Anne Fontaine should have come up with something better than the end result, which is a film that relies too heavily on its magnificent lead actress.
Tatou, true to form, is fantastic in the role of Coco Chanel. She is the only part of the film to indicate simply how Chanel would revolutionize the fashion world; she is androgynous, beautiful, petulant and forceful. When Alessandro Nivola appears onscreen as Arthur “Boy” Capel, Chanel’s doting lover, the film takes off; their chemistry is smoldering, but when Nivola leaves, the film reverts back to doing what it does best: remaining stagnant. Tatou and Nivola can’t raise Coco Before Chanel to new heights, but their scenes together are the best in the film.
Rating: 2/4 stars
Starring: Audrey Tatou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola
Directed By: Anne Fontaine
MPAA Rating: PG-13