This weekend, the latest film centering on the stylish Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel entitled, Coco Before Chanel hits theaters. The movie is slightly different than your run-of-the-mill biopic, because it doesn’t attempt to cover the entire lifespan of its subject. With a person like Chanel, a film of that stature would be too long, and too much. Instead of taking the traditional route, writer-director Anne Fontaine dives into the designer’s youth to find out what really made her tick.

Check out our review below…

The Players

  • Writer and Director: Anne Fontaine
  • Cast: Audrey Tautou, Alessandro Nivola, Benoit Poelvoorde, Emmanuelle Devos, and Marie Gillain
  • Distributor: Sony Picture Classics

The Plot

Coco Before Chanel is the coming of age story of Gabrielle Chanel before the establishment of her fashion empire. The film stars Audrey Tautou as the title character, Beniot Poelvoorde as her friend turned lover Etienne Balsan, and Alessandro Nivola as her one and only, Boy Capel. The film follows Chanel from her time as an orphan to her later years as a singer at a cabaret. That musical atmosphere is where she meets Balsan, a young man whom she quickly moves in with after a brief affair. Their living arrangement is the catalyst that kick-starts her creation of fashion. We watch her sharpen her sense of style, gain independence, and eventually meet the man who will help her open her first shop, Boy Capel.

The Good

  • The Cast: The three main actors did an amazing job at playing their respective parts. For being in a messy love triangle, Coco, Balsan, and Boy all interacted very well with each other and were definitely believable. Peolvoorde was particularly enjoyable to watch. He played his character as an extreme chauvinist, yet he was able to capture the right amount of humanity to make him likable.
  • The Costumes: When making a film about an iconic fashion designer, the clothes have to be absolutely amazing. If not, you should write it off as a failure. Thankfully, this movie accurately nailed the style of the era. Chanel always looks amazing in the film, even during her most poverty stricken days.
  • The Story: The story was strong and concise. It was interesting, because it didn’t highlight the “House of Chanel” as much as you would think. The focus was put on her relationship with the two men who inadvertently shaped the rest of her life.

The Bad

  • Audrey’s Facial Expressions: As mentioned before, Audrey did an amazing job as Coco. There isn’t another actress of our time who could have played the role with such conviction. However, excessive pouting, which is done often through the course of the movie, is not a legitimate form of acting. The scowl on her face didn’t always match the occasion, which made the constant expression distracting.
  • The Pace: Understandably, when a film covers an actual person’s life, it isn’t going to be an epic adventure. However there were a few moments in the movie that dragged on for days. Waiting for certain scenes to pass was borderline unbearable.


Coco Before Chanel has a good ratio of drama, romance, and humor to balance what you would consider a typical chick flick. Even though some of the scenes felt slightly predictable, it still manages to entertain. So, if your willing to take a walk on the softer side, check it out this weekend.

Rating: 7/10

Coco Before Chanel opens with a limited theatrical release on September 25th

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