Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) Parent Guide
This stylist's journey from an orphanage to the top runways of the fashion world is a tribute to her determination and talent.
Parent Movie Review
Following the death of their mother, a young Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel (Lisa Cohen) and her sister Adrienne (Inès Bessalem) are dropped off at a Roman Catholic orphanage by their father. For years, the abandoned girls wait in vain for his return. There, under the supervision of the nuns, the young sisters learn the useful skill of sewing.
Leaving the orphanage as adults, they subsist by working as seamstresses at a dress shop during the day and cabaret singers in a bar at night. While performing, they encounter wealthy customers who frequent the drinking establishment. Determined to avoid the social blight of being poor and orphaned, Coco lies about her past, telling the patrons that her father went to America leaving her and her sister in the care of aunts who beat and starved them.
Before long Adrienne (Marie Gillain) is swept off her feet by one of the men and whisked away to his country estate with the promise of an impending marriage. (Unfortunately, her lover never seems to get around to making the commitment that would result in his social suicide.)
After her sister leaves, breaking up their act, Coco (Audrey Tautou) packs her bags and shows up unannounced at the rural home of Baron Ètienne Blasan (Benoît Poelvoorde) whom she met at the cabaret. In effect, she offers to become his mistress in exchange for the opportunity to live at his expense. At first the Baron keeps Coco hidden upstairs in his lavish home whenever his friends arrive. He even tries to send the petulant woman away after she unceremoniously barges into one of his outings with friends. But slowly the brooding brunette manages to work her way into his social circle, even if she is kept on the borders of it. In time she meets English businessman Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel (Alessandro Nivola) among the houseguests and soon becomes his lover as well.
During this time the no nonsense seamstress censures the extravagant dresses and hats of the French aristocracy. Refusing to wear the perfunctory corset, she instead chooses simple styles with a decidedly masculine feel. She also begins creating hats for the actresses and other women she associates with at the country house. With little hope of changing her social standing through marriage, the up-and-coming designer begins to broaden her style influence among the fashion-forward Parisians.
Performed in French with English subtitles, Coco avant Chanel gives a glimpse into the difficult past of one of the world’s most influential fashion designers. While many of Coco’s actions, such as stealing, frequent smoking and sexual encounters (which are implied in scenes of passionate kissing and couples undressing) will diminish this foreign film’s family appeal for older teens, this stylist’s journey from an orphanage to the top runways of the fashion world is a tribute to her determination and talent.Directed by Anne Fontaine. Starring Audrey Tautou, Marie Gillain, Benoît Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola. Running time: 105 minutes. Theatrical release September 25, 2009. Updated July 25, 2016
Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel)
Rating & Content Info
Why is Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) rated PG-13? Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sexual content and smoking.
Frequent smoking and alcohol use are portrayed along with rowdy behavior in a bar and at a party. Sexual actions include adulterous behavior along with comments involving homosexual preferences, prostitutes and other crude innuendo. A man and woman kiss passionately, undress (with only back nudity seen) and roll on the floor before the camera fades to black. At least two other scenes portray couples kissing and undressing without explicit sexual activity. A drunken man attempts to have sex with a woman who refuses his advances. Women wear revealing or scanty clothing. A man’s death is discussed and a wrecked car is seen wrapped around a tree. The script contains infrequent moderate profanities and a strong sexual slang term used in a sexual context.
Page last updated July 25, 2016
Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) Parents' Guide
Why were Adrienne and Coco willing to continue to be mistresses even after they realized they would never be wives? Why does it appear to be socially acceptable to have a mistress during that time period?
What influences does Coco draw on for her fashion designs? How does she develop her skills?
Is it easier to become involved in a film’s story when the actors are less familiar? Why or why not?
The most recent home video release of Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) movie is February 16, 2010. Here are some details…
Release Date: 16 February 2010
Coco Avant Chanel releases to DVD and Blu-ray Disc with the following extra materials:
- Commentary with Writer/Director Anne Fontaine
- Coco Before Chanel: The Meeting
- Walking the Red Carpet: From Los Angeles to New York
- Historical Reconstruction