Monday, September 27, 2010

Film Yap: Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

Love stories among artists seem to have a different resonance than other romantic tales. When they are artists there is a different framework for the audience to comprehend the intense feelings they are having as it is conveyed through their work. In Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, the people in question are two of the most prestigious figures in their field.

Set in Paris, Chanel is on the verge of creating her beloved Chanel No. 5 and Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” did not open to a welcoming audience. They see something in each other that is respectful creatively and physically alluring. They simply must be together, despite the commitment Stravinsky has to his wife and children.

In many ways, this film is a companion piece to last year’s Bright Star. That Jane Campion film was able to create a film that was representative of the lushly romantic nature of Fanny Brawne and John Keats. The film flowed with beauty and wit while creating a world full of life and love. In many ways, that’s what director Jan Kounen did with this film. Chanel and Stravinsky are not people who would shout their love on the mountaintops or would chase down a train to say goodbye one more time. They are more reserved and the film reflects that.

A lot of the film requires the audience to interpret a lot of their emotions and thoughts. Some of this is satisfying, but it also creates a bit of disconnect with the audience. It makes sense that these two should be together on a rational, but there isn’t a strong emotional connection.

Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) deliver very strong performances. Without them the film could be lost because they are only things to help guide the film. If they didn’t have such a firm grasp on their characters, all of the (too many) scenes of lingering shots would just be empty.

The film works the best when Mouglalis and Mikkelsen are together and unfortunately that takes a bit too long to get to that point. The best scene in the movie is when they talk about how they compose and design. The film does not have many scenes of dialog, but that is when it drew me in the most. It’s not very often do we want a film to talk more.

The DVD is bare except for a very bizarre making of documentary. It’s composed of a lot of interesting technical footage of how they created certain shots but it also shows a lot of the actors talking about their parts with Kounen. It really makes it look like Kounen did not have control of this movie. It seems like this is really a Mikkelsen film, for better or worse. The Blu-Ray for this film looks visually stunning and helps make up for the lack of extras.

Film: 3.5 Yaps

Extras: 2.5 Yaps

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