Monday, May 3, 2010

Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky

Coco Chanel And Igor Stravinsky
Year: 2009
Director: Jan Kounen
Cast: Anna Mouglalis, Mads Mikkelsen, Elena Morozova

In My Own Words
What is the truth behind “Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky”? The film is based on the novel “Coco & Igor” by Chris Greenhalgh, but there seems to be very little information about the affair between the fashion designer and composer available elsewhere. In every biography of Coco Chanel on the internet, there is usually a passing reference to her relationship with Stravinsky, but nothing of great detail. I would love to read a whole biography book on Chanel to find out how much of this film is actually true, or is it really something that was blown out of proportion? Either way, it does make for good entertainment.

The film was very different to what I thought it would be, as it wasn’t a traditional romance film. It did definitely make me think, which is definitely a good thing. I love it when a film encourages you to think, and not often do you find that a romance can do this. The thing that really got me thinking is, did these two really have a love for each other beyond the physical? They just seem to have fed off each other artistically, but that is all they seemed to have gained from the affair. It just seemed extremely selfish on both their accounts. I know, it sounds like I was expecting it to be a rosy romance story and I admit, I am a romantic. Don’t get me wrong though, I did enjoy being mentally challenged by watching the relationship of Chanel and Stravinsky. And I did enjoy the film.

These are my own words and here is my review.

“Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky” closed the Cannes International Film Festival 2009 and what better way to close the prestigious French film festival than with one of the most famous French icons herself. Unlike the earlier 2009 release of “Coco Avant Chanel”, this Chanel biopic focuses primarily on her affair with Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, played by Mads Mikkelsen. It takes place in 1920 when Chanel had gained her popularity and was in the process of creating her world famous perfume, Chanel No.5. This film is far from a typical romance, instead explores the complexity of the relationship between Chanel and Stravinsky, as Stravinsky is also married and so his wife, Katia (Elena Morozova) is also part of the complex relationship. This movie is the thinking person’s relationship biopic.
It is also a fantastic film for fans of music, fashion and early century France.

Besides the complexity of the subject matter, there is far more of this film to be spoken about. Many people will find it very slow and that it focuses more on the cinematography than the script and the telling of the story. The ending is also very vague and many people will be very disappointed by it. However, there are also some amazing things about this film. The costume design is definitely one of the best in the 12 months and serves as a fantastic representation of Chanel the brand. The musical score is also brilliant, as is the choreography involved in the opening scene of Stravinsky’s ballet, The Rite Of Spring. The cinematography as a whole is impressive. There are some amazing choices of photography made involving both the actors and the landscape. There is something to marvel at in this film from beginning to end.

Anna Mouglalis is superb as Coco Chanel. She captures the look perfectly and she doesn’t even need to open her mouth to display how much she captures the true personality of Chanel, you can tell everything just by her factual expressions and how she carries herself. Mads Mikkelsen is also very good as Stravinsky and Elena Morozova is definitely notable as the cheated Stravinsky wife. The movie, unfortunately does not involve any high emotion moments, so the acting is extremely subtle. Many people will see this as a sign of easing acting, but all the actors give so much away in just their facial expressions that do indeed make up for this.

Coco Chanel was indeed an extremely strong character, as is shown in this film. “Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky” is definitely the better of the Chanel biopics to be released. There is so much beauty in the film, but not much pace or recap. Don’t see this film expecting to see lovers confessing their undying devotion to one another, but see it expecting to see two artists feeding off one another in order to show the world their best work, as that is what this film is.


  1. Have you seen Coco before Chanel, and if this anything like that movie? (Coco before Chanel is on my "to watch" list)

  2. I have seen Coco Avant Chanel. There isn't too much alike in these two films really as Coco Avant Chanel is more about her early life, while Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky basically takes place where the first one leaves off. This one is about a pretty small time period as opposed to the first one. I thought Coco Chanel and Igor Strainsky was better than Coco Avant Chanel though.