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Coco Before Chanel Review Critics


Dave White Profile

"Wolverine" for fashionistas. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Spectacle, a love triangle, heritage settings, bravura acting, witty dialogue, a bittersweet finale: There's something for everyone in Anne Fontaine's Coco Before Chanel.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Not an expansive biopic but a fascinating snapshot of a pivotal chapter for Chanel, her formative fashionista years.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Tautou is a fascinating, unsmiling, petite presence with a severe brow and an androgynous appeal, so much so that I wish Alessandro Nivola (Junebug) were a more robust beau as Arthur ''Boy'' Capel, the love of Chanel's life.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Coco is played by Audrey Tautou, and she's phenomenal--self-contained, tightly focused, sparing with her smiles, miserly with her joy, often guarded to the point of severity, yet giving off a grave radiance at every moment she's in front of the camera.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The naturalism of Anne Fontaine's film would be at home in a novel by Dreiser. Her star Audrey Tautou, who could make lovability into a career, avoids any effort to make Coco Chanel nice, or soft, or particularly sympathetic.

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  • See all Coco Before Chanel reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Fashion biopic is OK for teens; more style than substance.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this historical biopic depicting Coco Chanel’s life before she hit it big as a fashion designer examines her somewhat scandalous love-life, in which she is kept by one man but is in love with another, both aware of the other. Her benefactor often treats her like chattel. Though she asserts her independence, she puts up with his disrespect, too. Nevertheless, Coco come across as an incredibly strong woman, a pioneer in many ways. There’s a good bit of drinking and smoking, and some subtle love scenes. The movie is in French, with English subtitles.

  • Families can talk about why Chanel decides to become Balsan’s mistress. Did she have any other options? What does her situation say about the opportunities available to women at the time?
  • What do you think about Chanel’s romantic entanglements? Is it possible for her to be with the man she loves?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Coco never doubts her innate fashion sense, nor her ability to make it on her own terms at a time when women had few options other than depending on men. Her strength and fiery independence raise plenty of eyebrows, but she really doesn’t care, and in the end is able to achieve her goals.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Coco’s devotion to living independently, despite her limited means and low station, is admirable. However, her chosen path is becoming a mistress to a wealthy man who treats her like property. Women have few options in this period, and many must make the least-bad choice to get by.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: A man doesn’t lay a finger on his mistress, but he does talk about her in a dominating, demeaning manner, making it clear she’s like his property.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Men and women flit from one partner to another. Some scenes showing them kissing and tussling in bed (no nudity). Frank conversations about what it’s like to be a kept woman.

  • language false0

    Language: The film is in French, with English subtitles. No swearing in either language, though there is some subtle innuendo.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not much, except toward the end when more of Coco Chanel’s clothes and hats are on display.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Plenty of smoking and social drinking at parties, including a few balls that get quite bawdy and raucous. A few scenes take place in bars, with lots of drinking and suggestive behavior.