This movie threw me for a loop, and had me thinking about big philosophical questions. That’s not to say that it’s good, because I don’t actually think that it was. I was trying to figure out how I could love the characters in A Royal Affair and hate the heroine of Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky even though technically both movies are portraits of adultery. Why was I cheering for Queen Caroline Malthide and screaming at Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglais)?
The easy answer is of course that the King of Denmark was a mentally ill man who was at best indifferent to his wife by the time of her affair with the doctor, and Stravinsky’s wife (Elena Morozova) is upstairs dying slowly of TB and copying his music over by hand while he’s having sex with Chanel in his music room.
I guess that speaks to my main problem with this as a movie, I felt like it was being sold to me like a grand romance. I was clearly supposed to see Igor and Coco as equally talented artists whose passion couldn’t be denied or something, but really what I saw was a seemingly staid and decent man (Mads Milkensen does a wonderful job at brooding sullenly post Rites of Spring riot) who out of nowhere gives into temptation with a driven, talented, glamorous, seemingly devoid of compassion woman who inexplicably peruses him despite the fact that he is trying really hard just to keep a roof over his four children’s head.
What I’m saying is I didn’t believe this as a love story, and that was presumably the whole point. I was relieved to read later that it is actually unlikely that this affair actually took place.
All that said, it was a beautiful movie visually, everything from the kaleidoscope opening credits to Chanel’s art deco bed frame was wonderfully designed and shot, so I’m going to use the set decorator as my next link in this chain (a stretch I know, but it really was my favorite part…) So onto Priceless (because it was the only other one of Philippe Cord’homme movies that I could find any way to access in this country.)
In this chain:
A Royal Affair – Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky