Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
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Paris 1913. At the Theatre Des Champs-Elysées, Igor Stravinsky premieres “The Rite Of Spring”. Coco Chanel is mesmerized…But the revolutionary work is too modern: the enraged audience boos. A near riot ensues. Seven years later, Coco Chanel meets Stravinsky again - a penniless refugee living in exile after the Russian Revolution. The attraction between them is immediate and electric. Coco offers Stravinsky and his family the use of her villa in Garches so that he will be able to continue his work. And so a passionate, intense love affair between two fascinating creative giants begins…
The larger-than-life personalities of the fashion designer Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and the composer Igor Stravinsky light up the period drama Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, which is rich in visual and musical details. The captivating French actress Anna Mouglalis gives her Coco a cool, steely elegance, a chilliness that pervades even the extensive and erotic love scenes. The Danish actor Mads Mikkelson plays Stravinsky, a tortured Russian composer who nonetheless has a relatively normal family life and an adoring wife. Stravinsky's and Chanel's worlds first collide in 1913, when the Ballets Russes first perform Stravinsky's avant-garde Rite of Spring in Paris, where high society is scandalized, but where Chanel becomes enchanted and intrigued with Stravinsky's music. The Dutch director Jan Kounen wisely lets Stravinsky's magical, compelling music unfold at its own rate; the ballet and music of Spring take up nearly 20 minutes of the beginning of the film. It's enough to captivate Chanel. Years later, the two meet again when Stravinsky is a penniless émigré in Paris after the Bolshevik Revolution. The two begin a cautious but purposeful dance--two independent, creative brains that cannot be constrained by social niceties or conventions. Once Chanel moves Stravinsky and his family into her country estate as a "patroness," an affair perhaps becomes inevitable. And the sensuality of the photography, the costumes, the music, and the love scenes is undeniable. One begins to wish, however, that the direction would be as crisp as the endless piles of brown leaves in which the brooding Stravinsky is shown lying, contemplating, always contemplating. Perhaps the fact that two intriguing artists of the 20th century collided and struck up an affair is not quite enough to hold together a film. And yet fans of Stravinsky and Chanel, as well as of 20th-century modernism, will find much to admire in Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. --A.T. Hurley
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I would give the credit for magnificent, original, startling camera work to the movies director: the Dutch Frenchman Jan Kounen. As far as the acting, both Anna Mouglais, who plays the haute couture, perfume, clothes designer, and Mads Mikkelsen, who plays the composure, pianist, conductor also deserve accolades for strong performances.
The movie starts out with Chanel already a successful entrepreneur who lives in a mansion in the Paris suburb. After hearing and witnessing, Stravinsky's controversial oeuvre invites him and his family of four children and wife to her mansion. He accepts and off they go to live the bourgeois life at Chanel's. Once there, he and Coco take a great pleasure in each other's company while his wife stands helplessly by in the mansion. To drown her woes, he takes pleasure at being at the mansion with her children.
The storyline is strong enough to keep this story of love, infidelity, passion moving smoothly along to the end. Yet, upon seeing this film, I was amazed. more like wowed, awed, flabbergasted by the movie picture camera work, thus my giving five stars to an interesting story. I would have given four stars, but the camera angles are so intense, for example like in the forest branches twined together with the late afternoon sun in the background blocked by the leaves.
Sure, both Chanel and Stravinsky, were artistic groundbreakers, changing the culture on their artistic whims. Yet, I found this movie more about the art of filmmaking. Plus the sounds of making movies, which Stravinsky excelled at, earning him a star on Hollywood's walk of fame, for composing music for some of Hollywood greatest hits.
Nonetheless, Chanel and Stravinsky are 20th Century cultural icons. And this movie deserves to be treated in its own respect of greatness, as a 21st Century icon: the power of the visual is as pleasing as everything else culturally centered in this film.