Coco Chanel film brings curtain down in Cannes

Sun May 24, 2009 8:38am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - A lavish portrayal of a brief affair between Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and fashion pioneer Coco Chanel in the early 1920s brings the curtain down on the Cannes film festival on Sunday.

The festival's closing film, "Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky", directed by Dutch-born Jan Kounen, stars Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen in the title roles, and is based on Chris Greenhalgh's novel which weaves together fact and fiction.

The movie opens with the infamous 1913 premiere of "The Rite of Spring" in Paris, where Stravinsky's score and Vaslav Nijinsky's experimental choreography were greeted with boos, jeers and a near-riot.

Seven years later Chanel, who attended the premiere, is introduced to the impoverished composer, and invites him and his family to move into her villa.

Although the facts of what happened during the brief sojourn are hazy, in the film the characters have a passionate affair which feeds into their creative energy.

"I ... discovered that Coco attended the first premiere of The Rite of Spring and that Stravinsky lived in the house in 1920, that's a fact," Greenhalgh told reporters in Cannes.

"Other than that there was very little (information). I had the framework of the facts but the freedom to invent everything that happened inside the villa."

Early reviews have praised the look of the movie, which recreates the sumptuous Art Deco style of the villa and the fashions of 1920s Paris, but several said the actors failed to bring the historical characters fully to life.   Continued...

<p>Cast members Anna Mouglalis (R) and Mads Mikkelsen attend a photocall for the film "Coco Chanel &amp; Igor Stravinsky" by director Jan Kounen at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 24, 2009. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler</p>