Even though I love Coco Chanel’s style almost as much as I love Igor Stravinsky’s music (quite a lot), I had no idea about the connection between these two iconic figures until I saw the film Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky.
In 1913, Igor Stravinsky premiered a new, controversial work in Paris: The Rite of Spring. Audience reaction was not exactly positive – it caused a riot, with many people walking out, booing, or yelling in outrage. There was, however, one notable audience member who was pleased and impressed, and that was Coco Chanel. Seven years later, Igor has left Russia and upon meeting each other, Coco invites him and his family to stay in her villa in order to support his work. It is rumored that the two had an affair during this time, and that is what unfolds in this film.
Based on the novel Coco & Igor, the film depicts how their relationship developed and how they inspired each other. Through the passion and creativity their affair ignites, Igor is able to finish a new and improved version of The Rite of Spring, and Coco creates Chanel No. 5. All of this happens as Igor’s sick wife, Catherine, sits by wondering what is going on until she is forced to confront them.
I found the film truly captivating. The passion between Igor and Coco leaps off the screen, thanks to the wonderful performances by Mads Mikkelsen and Anna Mouglalis. Their steamy love scenes were so realistic, I almost felt as if I was watching a private moment that I shouldn’t be a witness to. That said, I also liked that the film wasn’t only about their affair, but also about them going through the process of creating and feeling fulfilled by their work. His music is almost as important as the dialogue itself, constantly playing in the background. Seeing Coco in her element as a designer was great, and though her quest for the perfect scent was a little overly dramatic, there was some clapping in the audience when she does finally get to Chanel No. 5. One of my favorite moments in the film is when Coco is comparing her work to Igor’s work. He insults her by saying that she is merely a shopkeeper, and it is implied that this is one of the reasons their connection begins to break.
I think the best part about the film is Elena Morozova’s portrayal of Catherine Stravinsky. At first, her character seems to be the typical wife who chooses to accept her husband’s infidelity. As the film continues, however, her character becomes more complex. The tension between Catherine and Coco is uncomfortable enough to be believable yet subtle enough to make the audience tense as well. It is also interesting that rather than treating her as “the other woman,” Catherine does have some admiration for Coco and her independent, unconventional life. At the start of the film, I barely noticed her, yet by the end, I found myself rooting for her.
I tried hard to find something I didn't like about the film, but I just couldn't. In the end, it doesn't even matter how much of the story is true and how much of it is fiction -- the story still managed to take me in.
- At Fri Jul 02, 10:27:00 PM custom calendar printing said...
I really like it when a film really captivates you and really sucks you into the story. It's like you actually feel what the characters in the film are feeling, and that makes watching much more magical :D