Coco Before Chanel (French: Coco avant Chanel) is a 2009 French film about the early life of famed French fashion designer Coco Chanel. French actress Audrey Tautou stars as Chanel. Coco avant Chanel was directed and co-written by actor turned director Anne Fontaine.
The film was first released in April 2009 in France. As of 21 December that year, it had grossed $43,832,376 worldwide. The production budget was $23 million.
Instead of releasing Coco Before Chanel in the United States itself, Warner Bros. Pictures let Sony Pictures Classics handle the release there. The film grossed $6 million in the United States.
Coco Before Chanel was nominated for four BAFTA Awards, three European Film Awards, six César Awards and the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
Several years after leaving the orphanage where her father abandoned her, a young Gabrielle Chanel finds herself working in a provincial bar. She is both a seamstress for the performers and a singer, earning the nickname 'Coco' from the song she sings nightly with her sister. A liaison with the charismatic Baron Balsan (Belgian actor Benoît Poelvoorde) gives her an entry into French high society, and a chance to develop her gift for designing increasingly popular hats.
Coco falls in love with English businessman Arthur Capel (American Alessandro Nivola, who learnt French especially for the film), unaware that he is betrothed to a woman in England. Capel believes in Coco's talent making hats and her refusal to follow the whims of fashion; as he says to Coco, "There's no one else like you". As Coco's business flourishes and life is going well, Capel dies in a car accident; she is devastated. However, Coco still has the business that Capel helped her start as a reminder of their love.Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel
Benoît Poelvoorde as Étienne Balsan
Alessandro Nivola as Arthur Capel
Marie Gillain as Adrienne Chanel
Emmanuelle Devos as Émilienne d’Alençon
Roger Ebert praised the film for its unsentimental approach to Chanel's early years. English critic Philip French found the film handsomely designed, tasteful, reserved, and rather dull. One hundred twenty-six critics on website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an average rating of 63%. The film's average on Metacritic from reviewers was 65% as of 6 December 2012, with a 69% rating from general users of the website.