Coco Before Chanel

Rated 3.0

The early life of influential couturiere Coco Chanel (Audrey Tautou) is brought to us by writer-director Anne Fontaine, basing her script (co-written with her sister Camille) on Edmonde Charles-Roux’s book L’Irrégulière. The movie takes Coco from a French orphanage through liaisons with various rich and powerful men to the threshold of her fabulous career, tailoring facts as trimly as Chanel tailored clothes (according to the Fontaines, World War I never happened and most of Coco’s brothers and sisters were never born) and incorporating the fictions Chanel invented later to burnish her early life. The movie is smooth and stylish, and benefits greatly from the presence of Tautou, effortlessly enlisting our sympathy on behalf of a woman who was by all accounts (including the one here) one cool, tough cookie.