Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky Jan Kounen

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky Jan Kounen
Because most biopics are so overwhelmingly bland and uncreative, doling out thematically disconnected life events with actors mimicking mannerisms, preening while some overbearing John Williams score pleads for audience investment, a dense, thoughtful diversion such as Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky proves a welcome change. Gone are expository conversations to fill in the blanks between years not shown, as well as the shots designed primarily for vacuous aestheticism over meaning. It's a mirror of a film, starting and ending with minimal dialogue and kaleidoscopic imagery, integrating the movement of Stravinsky's music and the linear simplicity of Chanel's designs. The opening sequence, which recreates the famed Rite of Spring riot that erupted when Kandinsky's ballet, with challenging dissonances and asymmetries, as well as native dancers, enraged a traditional French audience, is marvellously realized. While no one can know specifically how the ballet panned out, the flowing camera work sweeping through the audience, circling dancers and framing both Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelson) and a curious, observing Chanel (Anna Mouglalis), when not establishing audience and stage reactions, is crafted with such attention to detail and compositional awareness that it makes watching the movie worthwhile. The rest of the film, wherein Chanel invites Stravinsky and his family to her monochromatic country estate, then proceeds to dominate and seduce him, wanting such a figure to want her, pans out with a steely artistry atypical of period or biographical pieces. Music and design flood each sequence of minimalist interaction and unconventional thinking. It's as though Jan Kounen is far more interested in capturing the artistic centre of their combined work and how it relates thematically than he is in detailing their reported affair. Included with the DVD is a 20-minute "Making of" supplement, which, like most Europe-based behind-the-scenes, is infused with creative editing techniques and candid thematic discussions. (Sony)