'Coco Before Chanel' Skimps in Style

   The new picture featuring adorable Audrey Tautou is not destined to be one of the best movies this year, according to movie critics' opinion.

   Filmed by director Anne Fontaine the movie lacks sense of style - which is so necessary in a story about eminent  fashion designer. Fontaine is a competent filmmaker, and "Coco Before Chanel" is a mildly entertaining period piece, critics note.

   As the title suggests, the movie focuses on Coco's early years. After the briefest of stops in a French orphanage, we move swiftly to the cabaret where  Coco,  pretty immature girl,  and her sister (Marie Gillain), have  to sing for their supper. While there, Coco meets Etienne (Benoit Poelvoorde), an aristocrat with whom she has a brief fling.

   Ever the opportunist, Coco soon arrives unannounced at his manor. And there she stays, as she decides whether she wants to be a courtesan or a couturier.

   For most of the movie, she is Etienne's sulky mistress, resentful of his demands even while riding his horses, making hats for his wealthy friends (including standout Emmanuelle Devos) and flirting with his financial adviser (Alessandro Nivola).

    Fontaine hardly allots time on Chanel's professional accomplishments, so she clearly believes the more interesting story resides in her youth.

    But though Tautou looks charming in her character's boyish outfits, her Coco is a demanding narcissist who draws minimal empathy. And despite some cutting and stitching here and there, we never learn what distinguished this woman from all the others who made their own clothes at the time.

    Visually attractive and moderately diverting, "Coco" is not a bad movie. But it is a deeply conventional one. And surely it contradicts to the story of an artist who revolutionized her industry by violating every convention that came her way.

The New York Daily News    contributed to the report.