July 30, 2010 by  

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky


Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) and Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen) begin an alleged love affair in the film adaptation of Chris Greenhalgh's fictional novel "Coco & Igor."

Starring: Anna Mouglalis, Mads Mikkelsen, Elena Morozova
Directed by: Jan Kounen (“Renegade”)
Written by: Chris Greenhalgh (debut)

While you might know the name Coco Chanel for the groundbreaking fashion she created starting in the early 20th century, there’s never been a story that has been bold enough to enter darker and more elusive territory about the iconic designer like “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky,” a film adaptation of the 2002 fictional novel “Coco & Igor” by Chris Greenhalgh.

Set in Paris in 1913, Coco (Anna Mouglalis) is quickly mesmerized when she attends Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s ballet “Rite of Spring,” a piece deemed far too radical for audiences used to traditional performances like “Swan Lake.” Affected by his music that evening, Coco sees the same confidence in Igor that led her to become most sought after fashion designers at that time.

It would take seven years before Chanel and Stravinsky would cross paths again. Coco, who was mourning the death of her lover Boy Capel, invites Igor (Mads Mikkelsen), his ill wife Catherine (Elena Morozova), and their children to stay with her at her country villa where Igor can have the peace and quite he needs to work. Displaced by the Russian Revolution, Igor and his family have fallen on hard times. It doesn’t take long before Igor and his new financer to begin their alleged (depends on what biography you read) sexual relationship during the Stravinsky family’s stay.

As the affair continues between Coco and Igor, a physically and emotionally weathered Catherine is left to watch it unfold right before her eyes. Featuring Coco in a much more scandalous light than in recent films like last year’s “Coco Before Chanel,” Mouglalis brings an underlying sense of mischief not examined before in Coco’s character. Along with the affair, her authoritative personality is brought to the forefront through scenes where Coco is shown working stringently as a designer to ensure her brand’s perfection.

Through minimal dialogue, beautiful cinematography, bigger-than-life characters, and a captivating score by Oscar winner Gabriel Yared (“The English Patient”), the illicit love story in “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” – whether it actually happened or not – is a fresh take on two of the century’s most influential artists that will distinguish it from other biographies that opt for a more subdued narrative.

Grade: B-

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