Coco before Chanel

Coco before Chanel

DVD - 2009 | French | Widescreen version
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Years after being abandoned at an orphanage by her father, Gabrielle Chanel finds a job in a tailor shop where she meets, and soon begins an affair with French millionaire Etienne Balsan. Through Baron Balsan she is introduced into French society and given the opportunity to design her own style of hats. Though her career takes off, her personal life becomes more complicated when she falls in love with Balsan's former best friend Arthur Capel.
Publisher: Culver City, Calif. : Sony Pictures Classics : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, c2009
Edition: Widescreen version
Branch Call Number: DVD COC WORLD (FRENCH)
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (ca. 110 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in
Alternative Title: Coco avant Chanel
ISBN: 9781435992962


From Library Staff

What was Coco Chanel like before she became the name behind an empire? Was she always interested in fashion? Did she grow up wearing haute couture? Does she know how to sew or is she just the visionary behind the clothing empire? Coco, born Gabrielle, was abandoned at a young age by her father to... Read More »

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Apr 29, 2021

European film that offers a different pacing, more subdued and introspective, than most North American movies that are about formulas. The stark reality of growing up in France without parents must have allowed the protagonist to literally "seize the day" to improve her life however she could. Certainly explains how the future designer was able to create fashions and change womenswear when society was still not so supportive of women's roles and economic power.

IndyPL_MollieB Jan 21, 2021

Coco Before Chanel--Set in the early 1900s, we learn more about who Coco was, and how she got her name.

Coco sings alongside her sister for extra money, outside of being a seamstress. The song they sing is about a dog named Coco. A wealthy man, Balsan, dubs her Coco while flirting with her after the performance.

If you're interested in fashion, historical pieces, or foreign films, I recommend this film.


Nov 05, 2019

Couldn't connect with the characters. Coco (Audrey Tautou). She hardly smiled, seemed so austere and angry, not fun at all. She looked like she always had a dark cloud around her.

The Balsan character looked old and unattractive and it felt gooey just thinking about them having a sexual relationship. It's not a good thing when the romantic scenes give you the creeps.

The Boy Capel character is better looking and you can understand how there could be an attraction.

May 20, 2019

I found this movie so boring that I ended up just watching the 'romantic' scenes, not really caring that without seeing the whole movie, I was confused about the storyline. It had very little humor and they barely touched on the real point of the story; about how she became famous. It was thrown in toward the end as though they went through the whole movie and then realized that they never got to the point. Extremely disappointing since I had been looking foreword to this movie for a long time.

Apr 18, 2017

Celebrated couturier Gabriel Bonheur aka “Coco Chanel” (1883 - 1971) was a pioneer on at least two levels—she was the first female to make a dent in what was then a male-dominated profession and her edgy sense of style practically defined women’s haute couture for decades. She was also an ambitious businesswoman and patron of the arts who courted some scandal during WWII for her dalliances with the German occupiers. But watching Anne Fontaine’s drab, lifeless biopic you get the impression of a mousy depressive with a taste for straw hats and unavailable men who stumbled upon fashion design when she was bored one afternoon. Beginning with a ten-year old Gabriel and her sister being dropped off at an orphanage by their penniless father, and then proceeding through her early years as a saloon singer, seamstress, and mistress to a boorish millionaire before ending on a lavish mirrored runway, Fontaine offers little insight and no emotional connection whatsoever but rather gives us a pedestrian Masterpiece Theatre rendering of an enigmatic person whose legacy certainly deserved more than a cursory melodrama. Lead actress Audrey Tautou (Amélie) does bear an uncanny resemblance to Chanel but aside from a few fierce words and that permanent scowl her performance lacks the fire one would expect from a woman who seemingly broke taboos as casually as she hemmed a skirt—in an age where appearances meant everything she took on more than one lover and defied fashion conventions with her masculine togs. The rest of the cast offer up readings as lacklustre as the dull countryside cinematography—attempts to disparage France’s idle rich as a bunch of shallow deviants elicit little more than a yawn and Coco’s “passionate” affair with a British opportunist not even that—but at least Catherine Leterrier’s Oscar-nominated costume designs add a splash of much needed colour and sophistication.

Feb 18, 2017

somehow the film info has neglected to list the director's name, anne fontaine. her other film "gemma bovery" is also an interesting effort to tell a story from a feminine perspective.

Dec 13, 2016

An interesting look at the less known time of Chanel's life. There is no spectacular fashion, as one might expect, but the looks shown portray well how far the designer has come in these formative years. Good acting and atmosphere add to the overall effect.

Dec 08, 2016

Audrey Tautou did an excellent job as Coco. I feel the movie's biggest flaw is that it had to cover a number of years in a short period of time, and as such left me with several unanswered questions. I also would have liked more exploration of her emotions at certain times in the film, but perhaps that is my Hollywood conditioning and not a flaw of the film. I did enjoy seeing how Coco moved from living in poverty to becoming a fashion icon by virtue of her courage and willingness to make opportunities where seemingly none existed.

Jul 21, 2016

It is a good biography of Coco Channel's early life. Do not expect anything else but the events of her life. You cannot compare this movie to americanised biographies. Audrey Tautou rend justesse à une femme célèbre comme Coco Channel.

Nov 11, 2015

Okay, but didn't really draw me in - not sure why.

LOTS of cigarette smoking; maybe they should have had tobacco warnings before the film, like they do in some Hindi/Indian movies...

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Jul 20, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Jul 03, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

nadian May 01, 2010

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

nadian May 01, 2010

Coarse Language: Some


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Jul 20, 2011

mbazal thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jul 03, 2011

hur74Vety thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

nadian May 01, 2010

nadian thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary
Jul 20, 2011

Several years after leaving the orphanage to which her father never returned for her, Gabrielle Chanel finds herself working in a provincial bar both. She's both a seamstress for the performers and a singer, earning the nickname Coco from the song she sings nightly with her sister. A liaison with Baron Balsan gives her an entree into French society and a chance to develop her gift for designing increasingly popular hats. When she falls in love with English businessman Arthur Capel further opportunities open up, though life becomes ever more complicated.


Add a Quote
Jul 20, 2011

Étienne Balsan: A woman who cuts her hair, is about to change her life.

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