It’s unusual, yet fitting, that in the title of the film, Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, Coco’s name is mentioned first. Females are rarely mentioned before males, but this film focuses on the darker side of Coco Chanel where she uses her feminine wiles and, simultaneously, exhibits oft-considered male qualities to seduce and, to an extent, control Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
The film begins in 1913 Paris, during a performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, a controversial piece that nearly causes a riot inside the theater. The one person who is mesmerized by the piece is Coco Chanel, played by the stunningly elegant Anna Mouglalis.
Seven years later, after the Russian Revolution, where a grieving Chanel (due to the unexpected death of her lover, referred to merely as “Boy”) encounters a destitute and stoic Stravinsky, portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, struggling to support his family. She offers her villa to him and his family so he can overcome his writer’s block and start composing again. He initially declines, but his wife’s sudden illness forces him to accept Chanel’s offer.
Coco and Igor play it cool for a time, building a sensual rapport with each other at the piano, until she initiates a physical relationship, which he welcomes with ease. The sensuality, however, is lost in the sex, as the sex scenes that are shown are aggressive at best, like two people screwing their pain and frustration away, not truly bonding with each other like it seemed Coco and Igor were apt to do.
Things only escalate from this point, with the wife (Elena Morozova) sensing that her husband and Coco are having an affair, at least an emotional one. But when she asks Coco directly if the two are having sex, Coco unflinchingly and without regret confesses.
So we have to wonder what Coco’s motivation is for inviting the family to her villa. Is she really enamored with Igor, or is it all just to gratify her desire for control and manipulation as an independent woman? And further still, when the affair wanes, does the basic psychology of love (or infatuation) weaken even the greatest of minds such as Chanel and Stravinsky?
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