Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky – DVD Review

She’s a highly respected fashion designer in Paris, at the cutting edge of women’s fashion. He’s a composer who breaks all the rules of music. Sounds like the back cover of a Jackie Collins novel, but this is the true story of the short love affair of Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky appropriately titled Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky.

In 1913 Paris, Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) attends the first performance of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” A disaster, Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen) couldn’t have had a worse reaction. Audience members begin whispering, baffled at what they were seeing and hearing. They followed it up by booing, proclaiming their distaste for it. Culminating in some walking out of the theater, proclaiming it to be the worst music they’ve ever heard, Chanel is entranced by the unique music from the Russian. He storms out of the theater in response to the audience’s rejection.

Seven years later, Stravinsky, his wife (Elena Morozova) and their four children are homeless in Paris.Chanel takes them into her home and invites them to stay as long as they wish. Now that the two are under the same roof, it opens the door to begin their love affair. Coco is busy with work developing her new fragrance, Chanel No. 5, so she is often away from her villa. The time that Stravinsky and Chanel are apart only fuels the quiet anger from his bedridden wife.

The affair between the two seems a bit one-sided, encouraged more by Coco than Igor. She has a great admiration for his musical talent, but he talks down to her and at one point calls her simply a “shopkeeper.” The score consists entirely of Stravinsky’s music, the perfect beautiful dissonance for the film’s tone. Near the end of the film Katia writes a letter to Coco about her marriage to Igor in words that are spoken with grace but are meant to sting.

Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky is a mesmerizing film, but not as romantic as one would hope. The final scenes suggest that the two were in love even in their later years, but maybe they just had a profound creative influence on each other that was difficult to forget.

For a DVD, this transfer is gorgeous. Perhaps it’s just on behalf of the phenomenal cinematographer and wonderful Stravinsky music, but it looks and sounds gorgeous.

The Making of Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky – This is a standard behind the scenes with very few interviews with cast and crew. It mostly just follows them around while shooting. (20:22)

Theatrical Trailer

TrailersPlease Give, Coco Before Chanel, The Secret In Their Eyes, Micmacs

I expected this film to be incredibly drawn out and boring. I was not expecting to be riveted and completely absorbed by the time period and the story. Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky might be a romanticized, exaggerated look at the real life affair, but it makes for a fantastic movie.

Sony Pictures Classics presents Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky. Directed by Jan Kounen. Starring Anna Mouglalis, Mads Mikkelsen, Elena Morozova, Natacha Lindinger . Written by Carlo de Boutiny and Jan Kounen. Running time: 119 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: September 28, 2010.