Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, Jan Kounen, 118 mins (15)
Undertow, Javier Fuentes-Leon, 100 mins (15)

I say, Coco, would you mind turning off the cold tap?

Almost precisely a year after Coco Before Chanel, here comes a second film about Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel.

The poster even trumpets that it's "from the producer of Amélie", presumably in the hope that someone will make a subliminal connection to Audrey Tautou and imagine that they're watching an official part deux. Don't be fooled. Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky picks up, coincidentally, from where Coco Before Chanel left off, but it's a separate enterprise, and Chanel is played by Anna Mouglalis.

When we first see her, it's 1913, and she's on her way to the debut performance of Stravinsky's radical ballet, The Rite of Spring. The orchestra is soon drowned out by catcalls and fist fights, and when we catch up with Stravinsky (Casino Royale's Mads Mikkelsen) in 1920, he's fallen on hard times. Chanel invites him to stay in her villa near Paris, along with his wife, Catherine, and several little Stravinskys. The theory is that he'll be able to compose in comfort, while Chanel gets on with refining her signature perfume. But she's soon interrupting his labours to demonstrate how easy it is to unbutton the dresses she's designed, leading Stravinsky's wife, elsewhere in the villa, to wonder why his piano-playing keeps breaking off mid-bar.

Before becoming an actress, Mouglalis was a leading Chanel model, and she moves as if she's on a catwalk, her head held high at all times. Whether Coco is upbraiding her shopgirls, or marching into Stravinsky's study for a quickie, she does so with the aloofness of someone who doesn't care about anyone else's feelings, and who doesn't have many feelings of her own. Mikkelsen's Stravinsky at least has the decency to be flustered by his infidelity, but he, too, is so unexpressive that he must have put most of his passion into his work.

The paramours' sangfroid is all very classy, but as the affair continues, we're none the wiser as to what's in it for them beyond the obvious. Did it change them as people? Did it affect their respective creations? Maybe the source novel, Chris Greenhalgh's Coco & Igor, had something to say on the matter. The stylish but standoffish film version isn't much more than 90-year-old celebrity gossip.

For a love triangle with a bit more emotion, see Undertow, the first film from Javier Fuentes-Leon. It's set in a seafront village in Peru, where a fisherman, Miguel (Cristian Mercado) appears to be living in domestic bliss with his heavily pregnant wife (Tatiana Astengo), but actually keeps nipping off to a cave for assignations with a handsome painter, Santiago (Manolo Cardona).

When Santiago drowns in the ocean, and returns as a ghost whom only Miguel can see, the transition is presented without any fanfare or special effects. Like the relationship itself, it's just something that happens. The film's stroke of genius is its mordant observation that, for Miguel, having an invisible boyfriend is an ideal situation. He can finally walk through the village hand in hand with his lover, despite living in a tiny, hidebound community where gossip is rife, and homosexuality is condemned as an affront to Latin machismo.

It's a tender, unforced, well constructed and attractively shot fable about what it means to be a man.

Next Week:

Nicholas sees if Argentine drama, The Secret In Their Eyes, merits its Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film

Also Showing: 08/07/10

Step Up 3D (100 mins, 12A)

Yes, it's yet another breakdancing film, but what distinguishes this one is that the story that fills the gaps between musical numbers is even more bogus than usual. The central issue: can a virtuous New York dance troupe save its cavernous warehouse apartment-cum-rehearsal studio by winning a "battle" against another evil dance troupe? Admittedly, Fred Astaire's plots were hardly naturalistic, but when a film is so obsessed by being urban and authentic, then a scenario as cheesey as this one is hard to take. Still, unlike the makers of the recent British effort, StreetDance, the director is sensible enough to shoot the hoofing sequences without cutting to new angles every few milliseconds.

Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Pussy Galore 3D (82 mins)

Nine years ago, Cats And Dogs exposed the Cold War raging between our hyper-intelligent household pets. This is a sequel of sorts, although it has a different director, writers, actors and characters – and it's nowhere near as much fun. True, it's had more thought put into it than went into Knight and Day, but the frantic plot, the nasty CGI, the thudding puns, and the substandard 3D soon become exhausting. There's a splendid Roadrunner cartoon beforehand, but it has more laughs than the whole of the main feature.

Eccentricities of a Blonde Haired Girl (64 mins)

This adaptation of Eca de Queiroz's short story was written and directed by the 101-year old Manuel de Oliveira. You could argue that his age isn't relevant, but if it weren't for that talking point, it's difficult to believe that this creaky hour of am-dram would be released. Set in the present day, but with 19th-century language and customs, it's the tale of an accountant who is smitten by the pouting girl who appears at the window across the road from his Lisbon office. She's not eccentric, nor is she particularly blonde.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence