Movie Review: "Coco Before Chanel"

The film is about the two Chanel sisters - Gabrielle (Audrey Tautou) and Adrienne (Marie Gillain) who at a young age were placed in an orphanage by their father. As young women, they both became courtesans and Cabaret entertainers. One wicked song they perform about a dog resulted in Gabrielle receiving the dog's name, Coco, as her own.

As courtesans, the young woman attract the attention of lovers. Adrienne meets a baron and Gabrielle a French nobleman, Etienne (Benoit Poelvoorde). From that point on we learn little of Adrienne's life. Coco now occupies center stage. Coco's affair with Etienne leads to a more intense affair with an Adonis-like Englishman known as Boy Capel (Alessandro Nivola). Boy, in need of money, is already engaged to marry a wealthy Englishwoman. While he will never marry Coco, their intense affair continues and becomes one of true love.

The movie depicts the period in which Coco is played against the dissolute French society comprised of Etienne's friends - bawdy and ever searching for sensual pleasures. While there is little display of naked bodies, the mood of sexual joy between Coco and Boy truly dominates the screen and gets your attention.

Tragedy enters Coco's life. In response, she becomes one of the world's great designers of women's clothing whose creations are still standards and delight the eye. Coco's intelligence and indominibale spirit were her strength. She was totally unafraid of violating conventions, and she never backed down.

"Coco Before Chanel" is not a great film, but it is a good one. The show was sold out when I saw it on opening night at the Paris Theater, and the audience was comprised primarily of women. (In French, with English subtitles.) The picture reminded me of "La Vie en Rose," which depicts the life of Edith Piaf and includes her most famous songs. If you haven't seen that picture, get it on video.

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Ed Koch was mayor of NYC from 1978 to 1989. He's credited with restoring fiscal stability to the city and creating affordable housing. He's also a film buff. More

Mayor Koch saved New York City from bankruptcy and restored the pride of New Yorkers during his three terms as mayor from 1978-1989. He restored fiscal stability by placing the city on a GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices) balanced budget. He created a housing program that provided more than 150,000 units of affordable housing and created New York City's first merit judicial selection system. Prior to being mayor, Mr. Koch served for nine years as a congressman and two years as a member of the New York City Council. He attended City College of New York from 1941 to 1943. He was drafted into the Army his last year of college and served with the 104th Infantry Division. He received two battle stars and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. He received his LL.B. degree from the New York University School of Law in 1948 and began to practice law immediately thereafter. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP and hosts a call-in radio program on Bloomberg AM 1130 (WBBR). Mr. Koch appears weekly on NY1 television and is the author of ten autobiographical books.

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