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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky

Starts April 15

What a feat to the senses the opening scenes of this move provide. The year is 1913 and a confident, well-dressed young woman strides into the Paris Opera House and takes her seat. She is about to watch the premier performance of the Rite of Spring performed by the Russian Ballet. She smiles in enjoyment while those around her erupt in anger and incomprehension at the strange, modern music and choreography. Behind the scenes the musician who wrote the score for the ballet is arguing with the choreographer and the dancers who are trying to interpret this difficult work. Eventually the dancers are booed off the stage.

The next time we see the young woman it is seven years later and some old back and white movie footage reminds us of the carnage of the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Life is getting better, however, and the young woman is now a wealthy and successful one. She visits the musician and his family who are living in poverty in Paris and invites them to stay in her country house for as long as they want. Who could refuse such an offer? Certainly not this musician Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen), his wife (Elena Morozova), their four young children, and their nurse. The elegant young woman is Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) and her patronage allowed Stravinsky to rewrite the music which was to be his masterpiece.

Director Jan Kounen did not keep up the momentum of the beginning of his movie and it became slow and almost tedious to watch. How many love scenes are needed to show that an affair is taking place and how many close ups of an unhappy wife have to be shown before it becomes obvious that she knows about it? The movie is based on Chris Greenhalgh’s book Coco and Igor which is supposedly based on fact. Was having an affair with the famous musician Chanel’s true motive for inviting him to her home? She seemed a cold and calculating enough person to contemplate such a thing. And was the newly found passion in the re-finished musical score worth the destructive affair which brought it about?

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