Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Distributor: Sony Classics
Release Date: June 11, 2010
Genre: Foreign
Running Time: 115 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated

I’ve known that Coco Chanel was a famous fashion designer for quite some time, but never knew enough about fashion to really know why. Now thanks to last year’s “Coco Before Chanel” (directed by Anne Fontaine and starring Audrey Tautou) and this year’s “Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky” (directed by Jan Kounen and starring Anna Mouglalis) I know a little bit more about this pioneering woman.

Based on the 2002 novel Coco & Igor by Chris Greenhalgh, “Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky” obviously focuses on the relationship of the two title characters. The film opens with a performance of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” which was quite reviled at the time, although Chanel seemed to possess great admiration for it. Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen) becomes depressed and is forced into exile by the Russian Revolution. Since she appreciates his music, Chanel thinks it only logical that he and his family move into her spacious home.

I reveal nothing by telling you straight up that Chanel and Stravinsky waste little time engaging in an affair. As most affairs tend to do, the affair becomes quite obvious rather quickly. The film doesn’t let the performances go over the top, and that is what makes the characters interesting. When Stravinsky’s wife Katarina (Elena Morozova) confronts Chanel about the affair, they speak in matter of fact tones and don’t succumb to histrionics.

This is the first film I’ve seen Mouglalis in, and she carries it with a businesslike sturdiness. Chanel is a very introverted woman, and Mouglalis captures that emotional stoicism with admirable grace. Mikkelsen is more outwardly emotional and conflicted, which gives their affair the necessary conflict to get it where it will ultimately end up.

“Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky” is an excellent companion piece to “Coco Before Chanel,” and both films created an interesting experience in learning about someone I knew very little about before.

Theater: Capri Theater, Montgomery, Alabama
Time: 730 pm
Date: August 23, 2010

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