Sunday, February 13, 2011

Coco After Chanel

It seems that Coco & Igor is more a beautifully imagined story than it is a biography.  The movie is based on a novel that presumed a relationship between them during his time in Paris in 1920.  The only problem is that Igor Stravinsky seems like little more than a "boy toy" played between Coco and his deeply jealous wife, Katerina.  The women in this movie are by far the most captivating to watch, while Mads Mikkelsen pretty much plays Stravinsky like a rube, at least when it comes to affairs of the heart.

I won't hold this against Mads, because I have enjoyed him in other movies, but he seems clearly miscast as Stravinsky, right down to his heavy Russian accent.  If you are going to invite Yelena Morozova to play Katerina, why not invite Oleg Menshikov or Vladimir Mashkov to play Stravinsky. Much better for a Russian actor to speak with a heavy French accent than it is to have a Danish actor struggle with two languages.

As a film, Coco & Igor is beautiful to watch.  It plays out like a sonata, with sparse dialog, conveying much less than do the impeccable sets, lighting and clothing that take you back to 1920. This is after Coco became Chanel and had established her House and was scrutinizing what would become her famous perfume.  The camera soaks up every detail right down to the art deco etchings on Stravinsky's brandy snifter as he works out the final revisions to his Rite of Spring, which had been so badly received before the war. That he owed any debt of gratitude to Coco Chanel for this is highly unlikely, but it would be nice to think so.

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