"Coco Before Chanel" Movie Trailer Review

12/01/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Sam Roos

Francophiles of the world, unite! French director Anne Fontaine seems to have assembled here one of the most quintessentially French movies of all time, at least for a mainstream blockbuster. Armed with one of France’s most famous women, and perhaps her finest actress (Audrey Tautou, whose performance in 2001’s “Amelie” is the stuff of legend, but who most Americans are more likely to recognize from “The Da Vinci Code”), the trailer paints the film as a sexy romp through early 20th century France, with Tautou smoking cigarettes and looking coy the whole time.

But don’t be fooled by the cigarette smoke, passionate embraces and subtitles--this is intended as a more or less mainstream piece, something that will hopefully be accessible to an international audience. The trailer is sexy, but the film is rated PG-13, which likely means we’re already seeing the sexiest moments in the film in the trailer. Really, this film is a character piece about a bold woman who defied convention in a time when it was difficult and dangerous to do so-- but this trailer plays up the sexuality of the film in an effort to sell tickets to an American audience.

A look below at the French trailer for the same film more or less confirms this--the French version uses dialogue, mostly Tautou’s, instead of voiceover, and has only one shot of the star entangled with a male cast member. It’s a shame that the American trailer is altered to sell the film in the States. The fact that the film is being distributed by Sony Picture Classics is basically Sony’s way of saying, "We think this film will win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film," and with reputations like Fontaine and Tautou carrying the creative burden, there’s every reason to think that Sony is right.

The American version of the trailer may help the movie sell more tickets stateside, but unfortunately, it’s not going to be to the right people. Like most modern French cinema, this film was doomed to be beloved by mostly just the art house crowd in this country, despite its obvious ambitions of mass appeal. To this end, I think the American trailer is a disservice to the film, selling it short as a French romance piece, when really, this appears to be an in-depth character piece by two of France’s most prominent female artists as it examines one of the most important Frenchmen (much less Frenchwomen) of the last century. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is the French version of a romantic comedy--this is Oscar-caliber cinema, whether the trailer admits it or not.

View the French trailer for "Coco Before Chanel" here:

And view the American version of the trailer for "Coco Before Chanel" here:

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