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Coco Before Chanel (2009)



Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 129
Fresh: 81 | Rotten: 48

Though it doesn't quite capture the complexity of its subject's life, Coco Avant Chanel remains a fascinating, appropriately lovely tribute.


Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 38
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 9

Though it doesn't quite capture the complexity of its subject's life, Coco Avant Chanel remains a fascinating, appropriately lovely tribute.



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Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 39,757

My Rating

Movie Info

Amélie and The Da Vinci Code star Audrey Tautou stars as legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel in this biopic penned by director Anne Fontaine and screenwriter Camille Fontaine in collaboration with Christopher Hampton. Based on the Chanel biography L'Irrégulière (The Nonconformist) by author Edmonde Charles-Roux, Coco Avant Chanel features dresses from the Chanel collection. House of Chanel art director Karl Lagerfeld also steps onboard to supervise the creation of accessories and costumes. ~

Feb 16, 2010


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All Critics (130) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (81) | Rotten (48) | DVD (9)

A movie that is tres chic even if it sometimes resembles those corsets Coco banished, a little stiff and confining.

November 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The thread connecting the ambitious girl to the acclaimed woman is enough to make us wish for a sequel titled Chanel No. 2.

November 5, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is unfailingly funny.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comment (1)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Coco Before Chanel only starts to get interesting when she asserts her creative and financial freedom -- and that's right when the movie's about to end.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We are used to seeing Tautou play the sweetheart. Here, she's anything but. Constantly smoking, dour, unsmiling, critical, she plays a character difficult to warm to but fascinating to watch.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although technically a biopic based on a nonfiction book by Edmonde Charles-Roux, Coco Before Chanel plays more like an engrossing, classy period piece.

October 22, 2009 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie leaves you with the depressing feeling that not everyone deserves a biopic.

September 10, 2010 Full Review Source: The Stranger (Seattle, WA)

Fashion biopic is OK for teens; more style than substance.

August 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

full review at Movies for the Masses

July 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

Less an evolution of the most famous fashionista of the last century, and more an exploration of how an influential figure found love while finding her calling.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

If Chanel's early years were really this boring, why bother with them?

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Palo Alto Weekly
Palo Alto Weekly

An interesting, but slow, look at the life of the legendary Chanel before she became famous.

April 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

... handsome but not particularly enlightening.

February 17, 2010 Full Review Source:

Traces the troubled life of the famed clothing designer noted for an unstoppable drive to smash gender and garment ceilings alike.

February 8, 2010 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

It begs the question of why such a painstaking effort would be taken to re-create a life that could not seem less dramatic to the woman who's living it.

December 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

there were better ways to portray fascinating life of Coco Chanel

December 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Draxblog Movie Reviews

Coco Before Chanel cannot get out from under the romantic fabrications and excesses that ostensibly annoyed its subject.

November 19, 2009 Full Review Source: PopMatters

I don't remember ever seeing a photo of Chanel before, but when we see Tautou as the middle-aged, iconic Chanel, a cigarette dangling insouciantly from her lips, I knew it was an uncanny resemblance.

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Ultimately, [Benoit Poelvoorde] is the one who holds this knotty yarn in place.

November 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

This guilty pleasure costume drama leaves you wanting to know more about this extraordinary woman considered one of the most influential in the 20th century. Let's hope that Fontaine can do a follow-up with "After" in the title.

November 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

The script...adheres closely to biopic conventions but is brought alive by the magnetic performance of Tautou with strong support particularly from Poelvoorde and Devos.

November 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Playback:stl

'Coco Before Chanel'? Whose bright idea was that? Isn't that like 'Amelia Before Airplanes'? Or 'Frankenstein Before Med School'?

November 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

A better title: "Coco Before She Was Interesting."

November 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

Earlier in the year we had Julia Childs, two weeks ago we has Amelia Earhart, and this week we have Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. Who's next? Rachel Ray and her journey to invent edible crayons? Hannah Montana's battle against Dissociative Identity Disorder?

November 6, 2009 | Comments (2)

A familiar lemonade-from-lemons period biopic or, in the case of the fashionista, a smart-suit-from-tattered-threads tale.

November 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Charlotte Weekly

Audience Reviews for Coco Before Chanel

Another biopic of the fashion template Coco Chanel, this French language film romanticizes the life of a woman who favored simplicity in her style, leading to a feminization of rebellion in the fashion world, and in women's every day life.Still, though Chanel was a prominent figure, she is misrepresented time and time again as a romantic, a career woman, and a realist, when in reality she prostituted herself, and worked as a Nazi sympathizer and traitor towards the French. This inaccuracy, though blaring, didn't annoy me as much as the way this film is plotted, focusing on Chanel's early life, before fame came to her. Chanel is never seen past the thirties, transfixed into an immortal portrait of a rags to riches story. Chanel's life broadened so much more in the coming years, and it would have been nice to watch Tatou, such a resilient figure in French cinema, overcome the issues of Chanel's youth and rise to the occasion as a sort of matriarch to the female French population. We see a fragment of this at the end, but never the true extent of her success, the transformation she goes through to be a powerhouse, no longer the fragile little orphan of her prior youth. Tatou, such a great beauty and gamine presence, is so amazingly strong and independent minded in her take on the giant, but I wish there wasn't so much emphasis on Boy Capel throughout, and more on her actual life. This all felt like an ill fated love affair, when Chanel actually had many lovers in her lifetime, including Igor Stravinsky. It was beautifully shot and acted, I just believe the execution had something to be desired.
October 14, 2011

Super Reviewer

Beautifully shot and a good introduction into the early years of Coco Chanel. I have to admit I knew nothing at all about her.
Audrey Tautou suits the role so well, I could now not imagine her any other way. A good true story about a strong and inspirational woman who rose way above her circumstances.
January 7, 2011

Super Reviewer

I was very intrigued at the idea of watching this, first of all, I love Audrey Tautou. Second I love that period. Thirdly, I do love the sharp simplicity of Chanel's designs.
I love the production design. The costumes were gorgeous and the cinematography was impeccable. But I think some of the pacing within the story lacked. I didn't even mind the gigantic jumps in time towards the end. But it didn't quite have a compelling nature as we saw her straddled between the two important men in her life (no rude pun intended there).
However, other than that it was stylish and gorgeous. I do wish that we could have seen more of the visual style influence. Chanel's style was very clean cut, as opposed to the natural Rococco-ish fashion before it and I would have like to see what inspired that when it was certainly not the rage.
December 30, 2010
Jennifer D

Super Reviewer

The lovely, charming Audrey Tautou has graduated into a full-blown, versatile actress. This is a film that challenges her to move beyond the mannerisms and characterizations that won her international acclaim, and she responds. She creates a hard-nosed feminist, whose smile, though still delightful, fails to predicate itself on its ability to be enjoyed by others; it's a smile for its own sake. This performance makes me think she'd be a perfect Dagny Taggart.
The script and the story are less compelling than Tautou, and we never really see Chanel creating, forming, or even the slight burgeoning of the company that would bear her name. This seems like a let-down, and there was certainly room for this story within the film.
Overall, the film's star carries it and makes up for whatever flaws the script and director may present.
October 15, 2010
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Boy Capel: Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • Coco Chanel - Der Beginn einer Leidenschaft (DE)
  • Coco Before Chanel (UK)
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