Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009)
Beginning where Audrey Tautou’s Coco avant Chanel (2009) left us we accompany Coco (Anna Mouglalis) to her first experience of a Russian ballet by the yet to be established Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen – villain in Casino Royale, father in After The Wedding) in Paris. The reception is poor to say the least and Igor leaves in a flurry of heated emotion exclaiming that the audience do not understand his work.
Leaping ahead a couple of years we find Igor fighting to get by with a starving family of five. Penniless and destitute, he accepts an informal introduction with Coco who has meanwhile sunk her teeth into her business after the untimely death of her lover “Boy.” An unlikely partnership is struck up between them both, Coco offering her country abode to the Stravinsky’s to stay at whilst they get back on their feet again. An unspoken friendship and lustful creative partnership develops between Coco and Igor during this time, putting a strain on the Stravinsky’s marriage and confusing the ambitious composers direction in life.
On the other hand, the passionate affair creates inspiration for both artists, Coco perusing her foray into perfume, Igor creating some of the most passionate compositions of his repertoire.
Choreographed with great innovation, beautifully shot (fully utilizing the magnificent designs of the time by Chanel) and composed elegantly the film was a lovely experience. At times a little too languid, exhibiting an inconsistent rhythm and pacing. However, i was amazed to experience a narrative of such emotional complexity being executed with so little dialogue – an exhibition of a skillful director if ever i have seen one. It was yet another film that i have seen recently that provided a rare (and privileged) snapshot of the inner workings of creative geniuses. I find such topics immensely inspirational and intriguing on an emotional level. For i have always found that great emotional drama equals great artistic expression. Normally the process is one-way (ie. An artist taking full advantage of their muse), but rarely has such a relationship been portrayed on equal footing. A mutual kinship between two artists who inspire each other to create great works of art.
It was nice to see that the conclusion was not too bleak or wound up in the position of an anti-climax. Even though much anguish and destruction was caused by such a unique relationship both parties parted on equal terms of fondness for one another. So destruction can in fact be used to construct after all. Like many films dealing with this complex, often undefinable aspect of creating art this film expertly weaves together the tapestry of an important historical relationship that gives birth to significant creations through destruction of what is most dearest. Is this the lesson to be learned? Does one have to let go of their important security in order to create their finest artistic expression? So i have been told…
If you are not aware of Stravinsky’s music (as was i) then be prepared to be blown away. It is a real marvel.
Strangely enough, it reminds me of The Social Network. What was the main message in that film? Do you have to compromise others in order to reach your goal? It seems inevitable when telepathy is out of the question. Everyone has their own unique goals and this can never be fully articulated until it is too late and the partnership must part.