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Cast | News | Notes | Pictures | Quotes | Summary - Official | My Summary | My Review
|Marc Bouchier||Malcolm McDowell|
|Old Coco Chanel||Shirley MacLaine|
|Young Coco Chanel||Barbora Bobulova|
|Boy Capel||Olivier Sitruk|
|Boy Capel (English voice)||Daniel Flynn|
|Etienne Balsan||Sagamore Stévenin|
|Mary Jo Finerty|
|Albert (English voice)||Yves Aubert|
|Lord Fry||Robert Dawson|
|Sister Therese||Valentina Carnelutti|
|Aunt Louise||Sandra Paternostro|
|Concierge||Matthew T. Reynolds|
|Madame de Rochefort||Brigitte Boucher|
|Madame Desboutins||Anny Duperey|
|Coco's Assistant||Valentina Mezzacappa|
|Newsreel Journalist||David Traylor|
|Lady with newspaper||Katie McGovern|
|Lady Diana (English voice)||Allison Dowling|
|Odette (English voice)||Joana Wyatt|
|Caretaker's Wife (English voice)||Teresa Gallagher|
|Alexandra (English voice)||Suzy Westerby|
|David Alan Brandon|
|Yves de Chateiperron|
|Charles Henri de Lobkoqicz|
|Ema La Biano|
|Ralph Georg Josef|
|Matthew T. Reynolds|
Directed by Christian Duguay
Written by Ron Hutchinson & Enrico Medioli
About 5.2 million people saw the Coco Chanel premiere. The network said the movie was basic cable's second highest rated original film of the year to date. The encore at 11 pm also delivered 2.2 million total viewers.
Coco Chanel the three-hour event premieres Saturday, September 13 at 8:00pm
Malcolm flies to Italy to start filming.
From her humble beginnings in a French orphanage, the
uncompromising and unconventional Coco Chanel rose to fame as a pioneering
couturier whose modernist philosophy, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of
expensive simplicity made her arguably the most important figure in the history
of 20th-century fashion design. Lifetime is preparing "Coco Chanel," a
miniseries featuring Shirley MacLaine as the fashion icon. MacLaine will play
the designer in her later years, as she set out to re-establish her reputation
as a fashion trendsetter. Variety reports that Barbora Bobulova will play the
younger Chanel. Christian Duguay will direct. Alchemy Television Group is behind
the project, which has just begun principal photography. Two-part mini will run
in 2008 on Lifetime. Enrico Medioli wrote the script, which follows the rise of
Chanel, starting with her upbringing in an orphanage outside Paris. It actually opens with Chanel's move to reinvent herself in her 70s, after spending
years in exile.
Duguay said he was intrigued by the story of Chanel: "We've worked hard with it, and turned it into something that is meaningful and worth making an event miniseries," he said. "There's no point in doing it if it won't educate people and entertain, but in an original way. It's a love story, it's a rags-to-riches story, it has some strong social statements about women and about how the world has changed."
According to Duguay, Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld has given his blessing to the miniseries; the famed design house is even working closely with the production to get things right. Variety reports that costume designer Stefano de Nardis is working with the House of Chanel to recreate Coco Chanel's designs. Chanel died in 1971.
Alchemy TV, the same company that Malcolm made War & Peace is producing it.
Will be released first in Italy, then in the US on Lifetime on 9/13/08 for 3 hours.
Based on a true story, but some things were made up for the film like Malcolm's character.
Red Carpet premiere footage & Trailer aired before the film.
The company was worth 160 million when she died, now it's 4.5 billion
Marc with Malcolm's
Marc offers Chanel a buyout
Marc takes Chanel to dinner
Marc waits for Chanel to come down after the show
Marc applauds Chanel
"It's really the story of the conflict between creativity, work, and love. I thought Chanel was a remarkable study between contradiction and that's why I loved played her." MacLaine at the premiere
"I understand why she consorted with a German during the war. She would do anything to keep her boutique. She fancied herself very powerful." MacLaine 9/08
Coco Chanel begins in 1954, as Gabrielle
"Coco" Chanel suffers a professional and personal crisis. After a
15-year absence, she has re-opened her famed couture house with a comeback
collection. Unfortunately, she and her business partner Marc Bouchier are
shocked when the critics and customers reject it. In reflection, Coco recounts
her humble beginnings and how similar feelings of abandonment by her father
inspired her lifelong series of doomed love relationships that fueled her fiery
ambition to succeed.
As told in flashbacks, Coco first develops her sewing skills as orphan in a convent school at the turn of the century. Propelled by her desire to make something of herself, Coco becomes apprenticed to a dressmaker in Paris in 1912. There she meets nobleman Etienne Balsan who whisks her away to his country estate where she feels inspired by the beauty that surrounds her but also stifled by the strictures of fashionable society.
When Etienne refuses to marry Coco, she turns her devastation into determination to open her own shop with the help of Etienne's best friend, Boy Capel, and slowly begins to experience the successes of her entrepreneurial spirit. As WWI approaches, Coco's business flourishes as her revolutionary designs lead to her iconic jersey dresses, menswear-like suits, the addition of her logo on her clothing and the development of her signature perfume, Chanel No. 5. She also finally gives into her deep feelings for Boy but a tragic event dooms the star-crossed lovers. Coco heals her broken heart through hard work, building an unprecedented fashion empire.
As the years pass after WWII, Coco faces turbulence in her business and vows to redeem herself after the failed comeback collection. Within three seasons, Coco updates her classic designs, including the Chanel suit and enjoys a newfound respect. The Chanel suit becomes a status symbol for a new generation, proving that Coco and Chanel will never go out of style.
Paris 1954 - outside a showing a crowd is
gathered. A reporter says she is back after 15 years at age 70 and is unveiling
her new collection. They ask Marc when he arrives how the new market dominated
by Dior will respond to her. "She addresses women, I'm sure it will reflect
it." You are described as her old bandit? "Old bandit? Old friend is
more like it." He goes inside, says "Hello. How lovely to see you,"
kisses a woman, "hey Mark see you after the show, what a pleasure to see you.
Odette, lovely. How is she?"
Better than you. "In a moment." He goes down, the women go up. They say they are
all here, telegrams are in Marlene Deitrich and Winston Churchill wish they were
there. Marc, "Coco please, the crowd is getting restless. He works and cuts
and outfit as the last second and rips the sleeve off. Marc is horrified. He
goes downstairs with the crowd.
The women start walking the outfits down, passing the mirrored stairs and people comment and write things down. Marc watches intently. One couple walks out and Marc is visibly upset. A murmur goes up, then very light applause at the end and people all file out. Coco smokes and says nothing. Marc goes up to her. She says she knows it was a fiasco, they had their knives out. "I'm so sorry Coco." She doesn't want his sympathy. "Maybe it could've been avoided." Others try to comfort her, but she won't have it. She remembers when she was Gabrielle.
1895 - Her mom says to take care of her sister Julia, she is stronger than her. Then her mom dies, they bury her and the girls are left in a convent. Their dad says once he gets established in America he'll be back for them. Promise?
1954 - Marc reads the papers, "Coco is stuck in the past. A collection for grannies. What do they know? They certainly weren't wearing kid gloves. Please spare me the famous Chanel silence. I admired your confidence, perhaps times have changed and now we've lost millions of francs. I warned you of the risks. If it affects perfume sales then this will be the final straw, mademoiselle." She thinks he lost confidence in her and he gives her the papers and leaves. She wonders if they are right and she is a relic from the past.
1895 - She is in a religious procession and sees a man kiss a child and run away. She admits she thought she saw their father, but was wrong. She's afraid he will never come back.
It moves ahead to her 18th birthday. The sisters tell her she isn't ready for the world. You need to talk to god. She tried by asking to save their mom and bring her dad back, but got nothing. They think it best if Julia stays, she isn't as willful. She is taken to a seamstress job. Madame Desboutins was told she is the best. Punctuality and hard work - from 7am to 8pm. Room and board are deducted from your wages. She is given a small room above the store.
She works on uniforms and pockets beads. She is called upstairs to help with outfits for Madame de Rochefort who is fat. She is upset, she spent 1000s of francs on it from Paris and she's as big as a house. Coco says her legs are too short and they can alter it. The boss is upset, the woman is horrified at first, then thinks it will work. Etienne arrives for his uniform and Coco is sent down to help him. Desboutins, Rochefort and all the girls are smitten with him. He takes the coat from Coco and says nothing.
The next day a letter comes for Coco's friend Adrienne to see Etienne at a club. She tells Coco to come with her and she reluctantly agrees. She's taken around back and given champagne. They say she isn't from around here. She struggles with the champagne and they think she's never had it before. She tries to impress the soldiers by saying she's a singer. So they force her on stage against her will and she asks them to play Coco and she sings and dances to it. Etienne comes in and asks if they know her, he's seen her before. The crowd enjoys it and sings along. Etienne goes up to meet her and she says we haven't met and insults the woman he is with by asking if she is Etienne's mom.
The next day the Etienne returns to have his uniform fixed by Coco specifically as he did remember her. She has to work on him while he is standing there with a tear. He sings and says she is fortunate she came to the café when he was there. She sticks him a few times by mistake, then fixes him up and says it was a cut, thinks he did it on purpose. He asks to call her Coco and wants to see her again. She says it's impossible. Later flowers come for her from Etienne and her boss is mad. She closes up shop and he is waiting for her. He professes his love for her, but she says the boss is watching her. He won't take no for an answer and thinks she's never kissed a man and tries to move in. He pushes her aside.
Later she is walking in the rain and he's waiting by a wall for her. He tries to kiss her, she asks about the woman at the club. He says there has been nothing there for years. He is on leave from the army and wants her to go to his country house with him and meet his family. Then they kiss.
On the stagecoach she is worried about meeting his mother. He says she will love her. He has horses on the property, his love besides her. His staff meets him and says the guest room is ready. She can come down when ready. She watches him ride his horse, then she changes for dinner. She comes down and there is no family. He admits he tricked her. She prefers sincerity and wants to go home. He says he'll be leaving the army and will be here all alone and wants her with him.
Back at work Adrienne says she's throwing everything away if she goes with him. Coco says it's her life. She tells her boss she's leaving. Desboutins warns her he's used many girls like her before, she won't hold her job for her either. She says she'll have no regrets.
She arrives at his huge estate at night and he carries her in. She wakes up in the morning all happy and sees him riding his horse and calls to him. He tells her to join him. She gets on the horse and he admires her leg, but she covers up fast. They ride together. Later a car speeds by and she's thrown off her horse, but is OK. He doesn't stop. At the house she goes up to yell at Boy for scaring her horse. He says he didn't see her. Etienne says he's his best friend, glad they met and Boy says they are friends now. She doesn't tell Etienne what happened when she fell.
That night he says Boy is his only friend from school in England, he's a wealthy mine operator. She dresses and brushes her hair. He says the guy is strange in that he never talks of his mother and she is beautiful and gives her a pearl necklace. She goes downstairs and a party is going on. The girl from the club is there. She asks if Coco still sings, then says those were my pearls once. He loans them to the girl of the moment, when he's done with you she'll get them back, she was young once. Boy offers to tango with Coco and the Etienne takes his ex. She asks Etienne is he is thinking of marrying Coco. What do you think? Coco returns to her room mad, then sees Etienne and his ex drunkenly carrying on below. She throws the pearls at them and breaks their glass. Etienne comes up and goes to her, but she is mad. He says it's over, she came with someone else and he didn't invite her. She doesn't believe it. He can't stand jealousy.
The next day the ex is picking out pearls from the ground. She says they are a game to Etienne. Take what you can from men while you can. Coco says they are in love. The ex says he won't marry her. Take advantage while you can. Coco says she can support herself, doesn't need his money. If he leaves she will survive and has before. She goes to feed the horse and Boy arrives. He lets the horse go, it's the perfect world here, but he can't take it more than a few days. He's going back to the real world, work is his passion. She envies him.
She goes back to her old job to get fabric to make her own clothes. Adrienne is there and helps her. Rochefort is there in a hideous green dress and wants Coco's help. She offers advice and the boss is upset. She says it'll work.
She returns home, but is too late for the hunt. Etienne is riding with his ex. She says she misses him. He reminds her that she left him. She admits making a mistake. Coco takes the stable boys pants and rides in with the hunting party. The men are shocked to see her legs. Etienne says yes, women also have legs and how much he loves her.
She writes to Julia and sends her jam and clothes. She makes her own hats and hopes to sell them. She goes to big polo match wearing one of her hats and Etienne says it won't work, it is small. Polo is more formal. When she gets there the ex is there with one string of pearls. You have the man, I have the pearls. Coco asks who is the fat man watching him. She says he's a famous fashion designer. He comes over to ask about the hat. He says that's not a hat women want. She goes after him saying you mean what you tell women to wear. He says no one will like it. Then a woman comes over and wants to know where she got that hat. Chanel in Paris. The ex wants her to make a hat for her and admits underestimating her. A polo man goes down and it's Boy. He comes over to them.
At home a box arrives for Coco. It's material for a hat. She goes up to work on it forgetting their billiards game. Boy says she is an artist. She thinks he's mocking her. He isn't. He feels like he has no home, he's part Jewish, not really British and French. His mom was an opera singer. Etienne said he never talked about his mom. He admits it, says he wanted to with her. Adrienne arrives, Coco invited her and her boyfriend. She confesses he has asked her to marry her. Coco is happy for her. A letter arrives from the princess who wanted a hat and wants to know where her shop is in Paris. She wants to do it and Adrienne says she'll work with her making hats. Boy thinks it's great, but Etienne isn't really interested. Boy says Etienne has an apartment in Paris she could use. Etienne admits he does, but wants to dance instead.
Later Boy is trying to each Etienne to drive and he's not good and says he's a bad teacher. Coco wants to try it, but Etienne says he is no good. Boy says she's a better student. Etienne wants his cigarettes. Coco does well and wants Etienne to join them. He says horses are for him. Down the road she loses control, hits a branch and ruins a tire. She feels bad, Boy doesn't care, he just wants to be with her. It's going to rain, so he grabs an umbrella and walks her back, then gives her his coat. They are close to kissing and Etienne watches. She then throws Boy his coat and runs.
At night they are trapped inside. The men play chess and she says the weather is depressing. Etienne loses and he says it's my house, I should win once in a while. Boy tries hard to make it look easy. Etienne puts music on and dances with Coco seductively, looking like he's doing it just to make Boy jealous. Then he throws her to Boy, the window opens, all the candles go out and the record goes off. Etienne wonders where they went, the Coco and Boy appear across the room.
The next day Boy leaves in his car and Coco runs out, surprised he didn't say goodbye. Etienne says it's for the best, he feels like he was losing her and only wants to make her happy. She is the love of his life.
Etienne's family arrives and she's told to wait in her room while they eat. The servant brings food and says mom was tired and Coco isn't the kind of woman to introduce to his mother. Coco tosses her food and runs down there. She butts in and says are you going to introduce me? Etienne says he was going to and wants to talk her alone. She asks if he was mentioning their wedding date. He says he never said he would marry her, how would it change anything? She wants a commitment. He won't give it and she wants to leave.
1954 - Coco says how sad it was, she had to start over. Her niece doesn't know how she did it. She had to be strong. Coco hates her outfit, for the cocktail party. She says there has to be a women inside. She rips the top off and takes the skirt off. She says her famous lines like "Fashion is at once a caterpillar and a butterfly" and a women's body makes the shape of the dress. She takes the curtains down to make a headwrap. The niece can't believe it's material for a dress and then leaves. Coco watches her go and things her friend forced her to wear an enemies gown on purpose and it was a great idea.
Paris 1910 - Coco is making hats in a cold room. The manager says people are coming for their money, she can't hold them off much later. She'll have to contact her landlord, it's the same for the last 10 months. She takes a hat for the rent, but Coco says it's worth more. Only if someone will pay. She goes to pawn her fur coat and only gets 90 for it though she wanted at least 100.
1954 - Marc says, "Your collection 6 months ago was a catastrophe, we have to cut costs, please be reasonable, we are risking everything, your life's entire work. You've been out of the business for 15 years, fashion has changed. People only remember the name Chanel for the perfume. Woah, what do you mean backup? What ideas are you brewing mademoiselle. I already have a solution, I've looked at this thing from every conceivable angle, unfortunately the only solution for you is to sell. I have someone who is interested. I can keep my position as director to protect the integrity of your name. You would remain as the creative figurehead of the company. From your chalet or house in Venice, time to be with friends or to be with yourself, you've worked hard for it Coco. Of course, I'm afraid you'll have to give up your second collection. Look, if you agree, I'll open negotiation immediately, see if a suitable negotiations can be made. Look over the draft contracts I'll be in touch with you alter." She says she knows how to dress women, every woman wants to see what to wear every day. She doesn't want to sell.
1910 - The manager tells Coco the bailiffs were going to break down the door and they said they will be back. She goes to pack up the hats and Boy arrives. She didn't know he was in town. He wants to know how is business. She says very good, it's starting to take off. He says I hope you are not disappointed to see me, he is at the Ritz, they are neighbors. The bailiff arrives and says he has a warrant for 500 francs. Boy pays it for her. She says she'll pay it back. He couldn't let her sleep on the floor. She says you never said goodbye. He wrote a letter. She didn't get it. He never sent it. He thought Etienne would marry her. She said that was never his plan, he opened her eyes. He says she got off on the wrong foot, people won't walk up 3 flights of stairs and go into a cold room. He shows her a shop at street level. She supplies the talent, he supplies the money. He wrote in the letter that a day doesn't go by he doesn't think about her. She doesn't want to mix business with pleasure and sends him out.
1955 - Marc arrives at her factory and things are jumping. "What's going on? You promised me you wouldn't put on another collection. You led me to believe it. Have you any idea what I went through to make this sale? You have received a handsome advance for the sale of your name. Legally you have to comply, you've put us in a bad position. They'll sue you for every last penny. Pay attention to me and be serious. Listen, listen to me. I've always been a loyal friend to you, you are a tough and ungrateful woman. Why do you seek revenge?" She says she owes nothing to no one, can we work?
1910 - She wants simpler wallpaper from the dealer for her store. He says try paint. She thinks she'll paint it white. Adrienne arrives, Boy did it for her. She can stay and work with her. They put a store sign up that reads 'Gabrielle Chanel'. They'll put things together in the store, then organize a gala opening. Coco can't believe he did this all for her, Boy says risk is what life is all about. Friends arrive and want to try hats. They don't know if Ducet will approve and she asks to show him her hats. Boy wants her to meet someone and she blows her off. He introduces her to a Lord and Lady and she wants to try her hat in the window. It turns out Boy's father is her godfather. Elizabeth says Coco is Boyd's toy, an uneducated seamstress. She likes her though. Coco overhears it all.
She can't stand waiting and goes to Ducet with a hat. He takes the hats and tries them on his model. She says she designed them herself. He thinks someone inspired them and doesn't like the first two. He says the artistry is in it's simplicity. He will make the clothes, she makes the hats.
A woman comes in wanting a hat like in the paper. Then tons of customers come in and she makes lots of money. Later Boy invites her to a party, she accepts, but her name isn't on the list when they arrive. It's turns out his out friend Elizabeth wrote up the list. She leaves, he chases her down. He doesn't care about the party, she says his friends mock her. He loves her and knows what it's like to be rejected. His father won't talk to him, don't push me away, I've never felt like this about anyone in my life, we are the same, we are one. They kiss in the snow. He takes her back to his place to have sex.
In the morning he awakes to find her gone, she is making hats. He comes for her wanting to know why she left. What are you afraid of? Myself, my feelings, us. He will never leave her and asks her to marry him. She loves him, but won't marry him until she isn't dependant on him. He says she is so proud.
Boy leaves and she waits to hear from him for 2 weeks. She chases a customer away when no word comes from him.
Deauville 1914 - Adrienne suggests they go to the beach. She wants to be as free as the men are. A man on the beach offers her shells and she wants them all. She comes up with an idea for sailors outfits for women. Everyone stares when they go out in them. They are out to eat and Boy arrives to tango. He hopes she missed her, he would find her anywhere. She was worried he would never come back and she couldn't sleep. He wanted that. They kiss and dance. Later on the beach he says he cut off his coal contracts with the Germans. She wonders if there can be war. His father is Sir David in parliament. He asks about her father. She says it's sad. He says she doesn't have to tell him, they are all that matter.
She wants to open a store there of casual wear for women. He'll back her all the way. Everyone is looking at the newspaper about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. He says they have to get back to Paris, it could be war. She can't believe he's going to war for England, he's not truly English. He has to. He's in uniform and has to go. He wants her to go Deauville and open up her shop. She says she has to stay and fears him leaving.
She decides to go open a store in Deauville after all. Women need casual clothing even in war. She fits a woman whose husband says it's indecent. They go to Poiret instead. She wants women to be comfortable. She has the dress cut by the ankles since rich women can't dress themselves, they have to now with servants gone to war. It's easier.
The war goes on and she writes to Boyd in the trenches. She works at the Red Cross at night and the store during the day. He reads it and is called in, the leadership wants to see him right away. He runs into Diana who was at Coco's opening, now dressed like a nun. Her brother died in the war so now she's volunteering.
Coco goes in to buy material and everything is gone. She has to buy Jersey, it's what men wear. The salesman says he never thought it he would get rid of it. She'll take it all for half price then. Women are good with it.
Boy writes a letter, he has a new position as a liaison and waits for her. Poiret comes over to her, he is upset that she makes clothes for sand people. They are for people working grunt work. She says they are doing that. She is sad people have to do business with him.
Later she is told Boy is here on the beach waiting for her and she goes to him. They make love and she wants him to tell her they will always be together. He writes a letter to the editor that the war will just be repeated. He's invited to London to speak because of it. She says it can be a honeymoon. He impressed she did the whole shop on her own and doesn't like that he doesn't need him anymore. She says she always will. Then the war ends.
Paris 1919 - She buys an entire building for her store and business. Adrienne's fiance returns from the war to get married. The opening is conflicting with his schedule in London, she has to do it. She designs her perfume and calls it Chanel No. 5 - her lucky number. Adrienne's husband Maurice doesn't want her to work now, so she has to go. Boy is now a famous author. Diana comes to see him at a booksigning. He's glad to see her.
Elizabeth comes to Coco and shows her the paper with a picture of Boyd with Diana, they are said to be an item. He's made up with his dad, Diana is her goddaughter.
1955 - She is in the same building that she was back then. Marc says, "Coco, I must demand one last time that you cancel the show. This letter is from their lawyers, I'm afraid they are seeking an injunction against you, breech of contract, it allows you to run it, not use it as your private theatre. I am sorry, it's the investors. No, it's you are treating me like the enemy. It's taken years off my life fighting your battles for you." She tries to do a model shoot outside against a car. She doesn't want to hear it, he turned against her. There you are. Did I ever tell you about the little black dress? They go to dinner. Boy was the love of her life.
1919 - She meets with Boy, they haven't seen each other in 3 months. She asks if he's here because of the article and he is. Are you going to marry her? Yes. She doesn't need an explanation, you have a sophisticated woman at your side, good choice, important family, well connected and your father's god daughter. You once told me you didn't care about your father, but I knew it wasn't true. I would've given anything for my father's love. He reaches for her. If you want to marry her go ahead. It's my fault, the day you asked me I was afraid to give in to my feelings. Don't worry about me, I will survive.
She cuts her hair off and goes back to work. No more sewing machines, everything by hand from now on. Magazines and newspapers write about her revolution. Boy is in England with Diana. Coco gets a telegram from a customer from Germany who is coming and wants a dress changed because she put on 5 pounds. Coco says the dress is already made, lose weight. Boy calls begging for forgiveness, they both made a mistake. He asks that if she loves him he will come back to her for Christmas. She says she'll be waiting. She lights candles remembering him. She gets a visitor and screams. She goes to the scene of a car accident where he crashed and was killed. The scarf she gave him is hanging in a tree.
1955 - It gave her great comfort. After he died she designed a little back dress for herself, never planning or knowing it would be a success. He was everything and she went on with the business, it was all she had left. She threw herself into her work. She can't let it end and wants to continue with or without Marc. Find a way to let the show go on. He listens, says nothing, then smirks.
Later Marc is greeting people just like he did at the beginning for the new showing. He goes upstairs to see her. "Welcome back, Mademoiselle Chanel". She watches as the models go through the crowd. Marc smiles and claps. The crowd is much more enthusiastic this time and gives her a standing ovation. She comes down the stairs and motions Marc over to him. The collection caused a sensation and she was a huge hit in America until she died in 1971.
When I first heard about this it was revealed
that Malcolm would have second billing on the film which is always a good sign.
Then they said the TV movie was going to be told mostly in flashback and I
thought that would mean his part would be greatly diminished since he wouldn't
be featured in those scenes at all. Thankfully they jumped from the past to
present throughout and Malcolm's character was there most of the time from
beginning to end. In fact he opens and closes the film. He isn't just wallpaper
and they make him out to be somewhat of a villain, but he really isn't. He's not
given a lot to do, but he is given a chance to have scenes that cover a full
range of emotions from hope, happy, angry, sad, disappointed, incredulous and
impressed. Really the whole thing is a scam that Shirley gets top billing
like she carries the film when really it was Barbora as the young Coco who
carried at least 80% of the film. The other problem is that is isn't a pure
biography. People and things were made up and put together to tell the story and
there is a disclaimer at the end. In fact Malcolm's character didn't really
exist and was based on a few people rolled into one for convenience. The final
problem is a film that is supposed to be about a French woman was filmed
with mostly an Italian cast in Italy. Then the main character is played by an
American who doesn't even try to speak or act French. One of my biggest
complaints is with the cast listing. They don't list which actor plays what and it's
hard to figure out their names. In the end they just list a handful of
characters, so it's hard to figure out who was whom most of the time and there
was a huge list of people with no characters listed, so it makes it
confusing. A quick montage with clips and character names would've helped a lot,
especially since it was a mini series, though that term doesn't mean much
anymore when the total running time of the film was only 130 minutes, even A
Clockwork Orange is longer than that.
The film starts with Marc arriving being harassed by reporters like something out of today. Then we follow him doing his meet and greet routine into the building, up the stairs and right to Coco. It's a good setup and is well filmed. He has high hopes for the exhibit, but is slowly unravels and is a huge disappointment. From there she starts to remember her life starting with the death of her mom when she was young, her father abandoning them and getting put into a convent. Typical rags to riches sob story stuff.
Malcolm is back to read the papers the next day about the disaster and to tell her that he told her so. They've lost lots of money and it could be the end of it all. Then a quick scene in the 1890s of when she is young and it jumps to when she is 18 and leaves the convent on a seamstress apprenticeship. More of the typical stuff - long hours of work, no respect, little pay and no kind of social life. It is soon revealed she is the best at her job and is unconventional when it comes to fashion. Things change when she meets a young rich army officer who comes into her job. Then it begins to go into the typical love story mode. She goes out, he is there she sings, he is impressed and wants to go out with her and tracks her down. Soon after she naively goes off to live with him thinking that someone she is special when it's obvious he's using her like many women before. She thinks she is meeting his family, but is not, it's all a lie. She goes to leave, but doesn't. As soon as things aren't really going right she then falls for the next guy to show up. Of course he completely supports her and the first guy does not, so of course they end up together. There is also the whole jealous thing when her man fawns all over his ex in front of Coco. She soon sees the writing is on the wall with him.
When Coco returns to go hunting and wears a man's pants it is considered so shocking, but it has little meaning now and to us all those years later doesn't have any effect. It's silly that they are really shocked that they can see her legs when they really can't since they are in pants. Then she wears one of her hats to a polo match and the old guard don't approve, but all the younger crowd want one. This leads Boy to wanting to help her realize her dream of making hats. They start to get closer which leads to a car crash that doesn't go anywhere and a blackout that doesn't go anywhere until Boy is told to leave. She finally realizes Etienne is never going to marry her when he won't introduce her to his family, he doesn't want to marry her since he's got her here. She goes to start her store in Paris, but it's in a bad location and she isn't making any money.
In the present Coco finally gets inspired to make some modern clothes when her niece is going to a party in an outfit she hates. Malcolm has his biggest emotional scene where he tries to convince her to sell and it's time for her to be put out to pasture. She might've agreed earlier, but is now inspired to create again for the first time in years.
Of course Boy just shows up in the nick of time to bail Coco out when the police are coming through the door. He wants more, she wants to keep it friendly. In the present Coco is spending the money used to buy her out to put on a new show and Marc is flipping out that she'll lose everything and be sued and she doesn't care. It's another chance for Malcolm to shine playing hurt, angry and incredulous.
In the past she finds the upper crust don't approve of her not being one of them. She then forces her wares onto a top designer to prove herself and of course succeeds. She and Boy hook up, he wants marriage, but she isn't ready. Then he goes off to fight Word War I and somehow survives, she becomes successful enough to feel worthy to marry him, but he has his heart elsewhere and marries someone else. Soon after he changes her mind and comes back to her, but dies on the way. How cliche.
Marc gets angry when the lawyers are coming after her and she realizes she has pushed too far and takes him out to tell him a story he should've been familiar with. Malcolm doesn't say anything here, but conveys emotions only through his facial expressions in a powerful way. She pleads for a last chance and gets it. So it ends as it begins with Marc greetings people at the showing, but of course this time it is a rousing success and she doesn't have to sell the company. Where were the people who were shutting it down and why did so many people come to see it when they were disgusted only 6 months earlier? It should've been less of an event.
I might be the only guy in the world to watch the film, it's really geared toward women, especially being a Lifetime movie, so I feel I offer a different perspective. As far as style goes it was well shot, well made, well filmed and well acted by the younger cast. It was a great looking period piece. MacLaine seems silly playing a French woman and is just cliche trying to spout off as many of Coco's famous quotes as possible in the little screen time she had. As far a biopic goes, it is weak. I'm not an expert on Coco in any way, but even I can see lots of periods are glossed over like 1919 to 1954. What about her entire time during Word War II and consorting with a Nazi solider? That would make her less sympathetic so it was ditched. Her life story is turned into background to just make it into an uninteresting love story. Most of the time is focused on her affairs with Etienne and Boy and both end fast and bad. The rest of her family isn't mentioned. Her sister in the film isn't seen again and is mentioned only once later that she is mailing her a hat. It really is a nicely done film with not much story. I'm sure if you were really into Coco then this would be a major disappointment. Since I am not I think I got more that I ever thought I'd get with Malcolm scenes spread throughout where he got to run the gamut of emotions. It was a good role for him to showcase his acting without playing a true villain. There many more films you could watch that he was in that would be so much worse than this. If you can take it as very light entertainment, they you won't go wrong.
2008 Alex D. Thrawn for www.MalcolmMcDowell.net