Coco Before Chanel (2009, Anne Fontaine)

Brooding designer Coco Chanel meets visionary Igor Stravinsky, and sparks fly in this fictionalized bio-romance… oh wait, no that’s a different movie entirely. So what happens in this one? Coco (Audrey Tautou) is a young seamstress in a song-and-dance routine with her sister (Marie Gillain, the girl from My Father The Hero), but dreams of independence. Shacks up with an older, thin-mustached guy Etienne (Benoît Poelvoorde, Belgian star of Man Bites Dog) then falls for young thick-mustached guy Boy (Bostonian Alessandro Nivola of Junebug and Jurassic Park III). After she’s made enough money selling hats with help of actress friend Emmanuelle Devos (star of Resnais’s new Wild Grass, Mathieu Amalric’s girlfriend in A Christmas Tale), she leaves them both, becomes a solitary superstar and never loves again (except, assuming either movie is true, Igor Stravinsky).

Seemed slightly better than your average “famous historical person in love” kinda movie. They pull off a bit of drama, and one memorable image (postscript-Audrey sitting on a mirrored staircase as very modern-looking models descend, applauding). But remove Coco Chanel from the title/script and replace her with a nameless fictional character and this never would’ve made it into theaters. It’s supposedly exploring the mystique of this famous designer, but never really does so, barely touching on the design elements she is known for, just throwing together (or making up) biographical details. Katy didn’t love it either, or I’d try to be nicer.