Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky Reviews
I would class this as an arthouse film rather than mainstream, but it is an excellent film for its genre. Who knows how much of this is true or accurate but it makes for a good film.
The first thing that strikes you is the extreme contrast used in the cinematography. I initially thought my projector was broken - It's like a cinema version of the chiaroscuro technique of the painter Caravaggio (for example google the painting 'Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist'). The dialogue is also extremely sparse - each sentence spoken is like a full stop after a long non-verbal scene. And of course the music of Stravinsky accompanies us through each scene.
Another thing that impresses is the linguistic range of the successful lead male Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen - I've seen him in Danish, English, Russian, French and Swedish language films and TV.
In this film Coco Channel is an extraordinary person - hard as steel as a boss, she knows exactly what she wants and demands it with a low-key determined voice. She inspects her shop staff each morning - "your nails are too long and vulgar', then some staff have the temerity to dare ask for a raise - "Don't you even think of asking for a raise" she says before they even open their mouths. Later in the film we see her coolly assessing the development of the famous Chanel No 5 perfume - she is absolutely unimpressed with bullshit and drives her expert perfumer towards the scent she wants - and as the whole world knows, she gets.
The film begins with Coco attending a Stravinsky scored ballet in 1913 which is so avant-garde that people walk out in outrage. Coco is clearly intrigued by the maverick Russian composer. Seven years go by and she comes across him and invites him and his family including four children to reside in her chateau, so he can compose his music in peace. His wife is lethally ill with TB and he accepts. It is an extraordinary house - the windows are blacked out and there is no colour at all in the house, just black and white, his wife asks of Coco "Don't you like colour?" - Coco replies "Of course, as long as it is black".
Stravinsky composes his music and his life-long childhood sweet-heart wife corrects his mistakes. They were clearly made for each other. But there is a sexual tension between Coco and Stravinsky which inevitably become infidelity. His wife and even his children are acutely aware of this as they have to share the same house. A key moment between his ill wife and Coco - "Don't you feel any guilt?" and Coco stares coolly at her and replies coldly "No".
However there is no emotional chemistry there - yes they lust after each other and indulge many times. There is key dialogue that explains their attitude just after making love - he sits by the bed and Coco coldly says "I am as strong as you Igor and more successful" and Igor replies "Yes, but I am an artist and you are just a shopkeeper".
She doesn't understand art except as a collector, (even Stravinsky is part of her collection) but wants to do so, so she is very generous as a patron, even financing anonymously an entire season of ballet worth a third of a million francs.
And towards the end of their lives, many decades later, it is apparent that they made a lasting impression on one another.