x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky

This biopic is not particularly emotive, but it is an engaging and persuasive look at the relationship between Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky.

Directed by: Jan Kounen
Starring: Anna Mouglalis, Mads Mikkelsen, Elena Morozova
***

Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky begins with vivid, quite mesmerising intent. It is 1913 and the now notorious opening night of Stravinsky's The Last Rite of Spring in Paris. As the performance reaches its crescendo and the evening dissolves into pandemonium - audience members rioting, the house lights being furiously switched on and off and the arrival of the police - Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) remains seated; a serene, insouciant figure, amid an agitated cacophony of noise and action.

This sense of independence and poise is only heightened when we next see her in 1920, mourning the recent death of 'Boy' Capel. After encountering an impoverished Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen), Chanel offers to house him and his family at her mansion in the country.

And so the rumoured liaison between the two modernists begins. The relationship, which is barely concealed from Stravinsky's dying wife Katya (Elena Morozova), initially seems to fuel their artistic tendencies yet eventually becomes something of an egotistical power struggle.

When Stravinsky dismisses Chanel as merely a shoemaker it signals the end. Mouglalis' Coco Chanel is ruthless, determined and much like the film itself, the very incarnation of elegance.

This biopic isn't particularly emotive; even in the closing scenes, when we see the two principal characters alone in old age, feelings aren't really stirred. However, it is engaging and persuasive and from the clothing to Chanel's Art Deco home, beautifully styled and very polished.