I saw Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky this week as part of the French Film Festival and I was captivated. It was not the type of film I was expecting, although I don't really know what I was expecting to be honest. Perhaps something more sweeping. But instead, I received a distilled film that is more powerful because it limits itself in certain areas, and only indulges in a few.
The indulgences are not for the faint-hearted: this is not a film to approach with an expectation of a romanticised portrayal of love and desire. But it is not gratuitously explicit, just honest. The clothes are the second indulgence. It is almost worth it to go see the film for the clothes alone. I found myself empathising with the body of the actress who played Chanel, Anna Mouglalis, in its overt skinniness and poky collarbone, being built similarly myself. I only wish I walked away from the film with her wardrobe and not just her body type.
What I loved about this film is that it wasn't sentimental, but rather just told the story of two strong-willed individuals without the need to make them overtly likable. Even more than that, I loved the way that the film distilled their historical context to suit their lives, so that amidst Chanel's revolution of style and Stravinsky's revolution of music is a brief photographic narrative of the revolution of war.
This was very cleverly done and it made me realise why the beginning of the film focused so intently on the initial ballet scene. I sort of felt that some of the audience in the theatre that I saw it in got a bit lost because of this initial ballet scene, and some people grew restless, but it made perfect sense to me as the film progressed. It was almost like a silent way of telling the audience what the film was about, and what tone to expect.
Has anyone seen the film, or hoping to see it?