Coco Before Chanel

So an Irishman, an Englishman, a Scotsman, a Jew, Gordon Brown, Bono and the Pope walk into a pub. The barman says, “Is this some kind of joke?”

That’s exactly how I feel about this film, because of this trailer.

Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel, according to Wikipedia, was a pioneering French fashion designer whose modernist philosophy, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important figure in 20th-century fashion. So, maybe, if fashion is your thing, this film is for you. But if it isn’t, the trailer might be very off-putting.

After a quick montage of dress-making (eugh),we’re told the film’s angle: “from humble beginnings”. Everyone loves an underdog story, but it’s a well-worn path.

“Her passion would challenge convention”, it claims – here’s where it becomes nauseating. It’d be perhaps wise to play down fashion, rather than essentially imply it to be the most-important-thing-ever(tm). “She dared to be different” just adds to this. Would it make a difference if I wore yellow tomorrow?

If I had read beyond that first sentence in Wikipedia, it’s possible that I might think the trailer’s extravagant claims more justified than I’m making out, but if you’re not in the know, well, it speaks for itself.

However, if you’re in the Grazia-reading target market, this might be right up your alley. Every shot shows a range of different costumes – perhaps the film should’ve been called 27,000 Dresses. In all seriousness, though, I’m concerned that the emphasis on costume design above delivering what appears to be a very straightforward story might kill whatever potential the film might have.

One thing that everyone can agree on, though: it’s good to see Audrey Tautou return to French cinema, where she has had considerably more success (Amélie) than in Hollywood (The Da Vinci Code).

Free screenings on 12th July at

Aberdeen The Belmont Picturehouse
Everyman Belsize Park
The Ritzy Brixton
Cambridge Arts Picturehouse
Clapham Picturehouse
Exeter Picturehouse
Greenwich Picturehouse
Islington Screen on the Green
Liverpool Picturehouse at FACT
Norwich Cinema City
Oxford Picturehouse Phoenix
Southampton Picturehouse Harbour Lights
Winchester Screen
York City Screen Picturehouse

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