Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (15)
Friday 06 August 2010
Jan Kounen's drama picks up more or less at the point when
Coco Before Chanel (with Audrey Tautou) left off – with Coco mourning the death of her lover Boy Capel and hitting her stride as the most celebrated couturière in France.
Here, played with terrifying elegance by Anna Mouglalis, Coco is present at the Paris premiere in May 1913 of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring – you may predict a riot – though she doesn't meet the composer himself (Mads Mikkelsen) until 1920, when she invites him, his wife and his children to stay at her country mansion.
Kounen, adapting from Chris Greenhalgh's novel, not only suggests that an affair ensued between the couple but draws visual parallels between their creative instincts: the blacks and whites of the Steinway piano keys are echoed in the black and white lines of Coco's designs and clothing.
That they were comparable as artists, however, is much less convincing: while he labours over the revisions of The Rite of Spring, she trips off to Grasse to find the elusive scent that will become "No. 5" – strictly, the perfumier's creation rather than her own. Stravinsky is nettled by any comparison of talents: "You're not an artist, Coco. You're a shopkeeper." There's tact!
This Coco is more austere and ruthless than Tautou's gamine waif, and the film itself is a more considered, textured portrait. One of the best things here is a coda that finds both principals alone in old age (they died within months of one another in 1971), contemplating mementoes of their liaison – whatever it was – half a century before.
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