Fashion is so consistently portrayed as a measure of money and status that one can easily forget it’s a means of personal expression, which may be the reason this biopic of French designer Coco Chanel is so satisfying. Raised in an orphanage, young Coco (Audrey Tautou) trades her degrading job as a dance hall singer for the gilded cage offered her by a boorish playboy (Benoit Poelvoorde), and ultimately her skill at the sewing machine enables her to break away and establish herself in the clothing business. Director Anne Fontaine (The Girl From Monaco, How I Killed My Father) skillfully maps the shifting dynamic between Chanel and her wealthy lover as his social circle begins to accept and then respect her. But the movie is most fascinating when it shows how Chanel communicated her enlightened sense of womanhood through her innovative designs, which in turn helped women feel differently about themselves.
Director: Anne Fontaine
Producer: Caroline Benjo, Philippe Carcassonne, Carole Scotta and Simon Arnal
Cast: Audrey Tautou, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola, Marie Gillain, Emmanuelle Devos, Régis Royer, Etienne Bartholomeus, Yan Duffas, Fabien Béhar, Roch Leibovici, Jean-Yves Chatelais, Pierre Diot, Vincent Nemeth, Bruno Abraham-Kremer, Marie-Bénédicte Roy and Émilie Gavois-Kahn