by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Barbora Bobulova as YOUNG COCO CHANEL
Olivier Sitruk as BOY CAPEL
Valentina Lodovini as ADRIENNE
Sagamore Stevenin as ETIENNE BALSAN
Malcolm McDowell as MARC BOUCHIER
Shirley MacLaine as OLD COCO CHANEL
Studio: Screen Media Films
Directed by: Christian Duguay
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Fashion legend Coco Chanel did not always live in the upper crust of society. She struggled through her early years. The Lifetime biopic ďCoco ChanelĒ tells the story of the designer in flashback form after her attempt to redefine herself in the middle of the century. The story fills in her early life as an abandoned orphan who later built her own business on the streets of France. Dealing with challenges in love, business and family, Coco Chanel proved to be a fighter that made her famous.
WHAT I LIKED
While I have a particularly good eye for womenís fashion (a little known fact about myself), I really donít care about the fashion world. In fact, I am so disinterested in the world of fashion that I really didnít know anything about Coco Chanel aside from her famous brand-name perfume (which I cannot identify by scent, by the way) and her company logo that works as a status symbol.
Because I knew pretty much nothing about the woman that was Coco Chanel, this film played to a blank slate. I didnít see anything repetitious to the facts of her life simply because I was ignorant of her entire existence.
The acting is pretty decent in this TV movie, although the biggest props go to the older cast, including Shirley MacLaine as the old Coco and Malcolm McDowell as her business associate. The younger cast is decent enough, and Barbora Bobulova as the young Coco is quite fetching. However, they do fit into the made-for-TV mode, not allowing them to give a solid enough performance to break out of the small screen.
Still, MacLaine is deserving of her Golden Globe and Emmy nominations, and this movie is worth sitting through if youíre a fan of hers.
WHAT I DIDNíT LIKE
Although biopics are extremely popular among viewers of both television and film, they tend to follow a very predictable formula. This is even more apparent when itís the biopic of someone famous in a flashback. We, of course, know that Coco Chanel makes it big. We know that she does, in fact, have a successful business. So all the struggles we see are softened by the fact that we see her as a rich, famous and notable woman throughout the film.
Also, as with most biopics, the movie does turn into a bit of a puff piece about the subject. In this film, Coco Chanel is always the victim, never the aggressor. If she has any faults, itís because she challenges the archaic and sexist principles of the day. Yet, as an older woman, you can tell that she has some lingering issues.
Itís not a terribly balanced or objective view of Coco Chanel, but then again, I donít suppose they planned it to be.
Thereís a single behind-the-scenes featurette to this DVD, although itís partly in the French language, which makes for some annoying subtitle reading if youíre a lazy bastard like myself.
WHOíS GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of Shirley MacLaine and Coco Chanel.