Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coco before Chanel

Today I saw “Coco before Chanel” a movie which I call “real art, real cinema”. The screenplay was subtly written with scrutiny and directed artistically by Anne Fontaine.

Fontaine portrays Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel with an in-depth view on her characteristic from all aspects of her life, circumstances, and impulses. Mesmerizing in every frame, every scene, the film focuses on Coco’s gaze into her surrounding, in order to explore her contradictions, her persistence of being obstinately herself and her tenacious longing to become a self-made woman.

Fontaine explains: “This girl, coming from the heart of French countryside, poor, uneducated, but endowed with an exceptional personality, was destined to be ahead of her time.”

Fontaine’s film is not about fashion, but about a striving woman who tries to be independent and conquering a world which governs by wealth and men. Coco does not sit back and hope for something to change her life, instead she questions, challenges and learns from all the instruments around her to empower herself.

Film has many layers, many brilliant moments, and many witty dialogues which remain in us forever. More than anything else is the stunning performance of Audrey Tautou which brings out the richness of Coco Chanel’s character, the mystery of her inner life as well as her sensuality, simplicity, elegance and exceptionality.

Before exploring love, Coco who believes love brings misery to women’s life (as she had experienced her mother’s agony) says: “Skin is skin, you just turn off the light!..” But understanding the essence of love changes her tremendously. Love strengthens her, flourishes her and elevates her to the highest level of determination and dazzling creativity. One of the captivating scenes is that after the death of her lover, Coco touches fabrics as if touching the skin of her lover knowing that life has blossomed out of death.

Now, as in the world of beauty industry women are enormously being exploited, I often remember “Top Girls” a play by Caryl Churchill and “What is to be done” a novel by Nicolai Chernyshevsky . I read a Persian translation of this book in my teen years, and I often wonder why no one has paid attention to Chernyshevsky’s vision of a constructive economic system for women's rights.

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