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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent