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Shirley MacLaine in There are some that are bad in a rather entertaining way. "Hello, Dolly!," for example, is a good bad movie, but "Hook" is just bad bad, and "Popeye" is worse worse. See? Comprenez vous? I switched to a bit of French right there because the good bad movie we are discussing today is the Lifetime Network s biopic "Coco Chanel," starring a badly miscast Shirley MacLaine and premiering tonight. Actually, although the former Irma La Douce gets top billing, she shows up only from time to time. Most of the film is about the early life of Chanel and stars a younger actress. No matter: MacLaine s onscreen long enough to remind us that even great actors can give bad performances. At first, the film seems headed straight for the bad badlands when the older Coco returns to Paris in the mid 50s, orchestrates a runway show and gets roundly panned by the press and potential customers for being too old fashioned. ugg australia retailers Her reaction is a bit of supposed dialogue: "I ve suffered rejection before, as you well know. Even when I was still being called Gabrielle." Do we feel a flashback coming on? You bet your sweet little black dress we do. In fact, the rest of MacLaine s appearances become a framing device as Coco decides to mount a whole new show, despite the objections of business partner Marc (Malcolm McDowell), ugg uk who wants to sell the whole enterprise. First, though, there s a blur of black and white camera work and, voil, we are back in Gabrielle s childhood, just as she and her sister are abandoned by their father. A few years later, Gabrielle is a young woman played by Slovak actress Barbora Bobulova and working as a seamstress for an established dressmaker. Then Gabrielle throws it all away to go off to live with the handsome rogue Lt. (). All seems blissful until she realizes that Etienne is just interested in shacking up, even if, in this case, the shack is a huge chateau in Provence with hot and cold running servants. Back in Paris, she tries to start her own millinery business, but is running out of both time and money when, out of the bleu, Etienne s best friend, businessman (), shows up, offers to go into business with her, and they fall in love. Boy wants to marry her, but Coco, as she is beginning to be known, won t say yes until she s no longer in ugg boots for women cheap his debt. I suppose if director were dealing with a lesser force than Shirley MacLaine, he would have been able to insist that she perform the role of the elder Coco with a French accent. Every time you find yourself getting pleasantly lost in the melodrama of the younger Coco s loves and losses, along comes Shirley with her big, husky Virginia bred voice to utter idiotic lines of dialogue culled from Chanel sayings. Duguay s direction is uneven but sometimes effective. The scenes with Bobulova are nicely paced and show a welcome attention to detail and characterization. He does manage one especially egregious scene where Etienne and Gabrielle are dancing the tango at Etienne s villa. Etienne glares. She smolders. He glares harder. She smolders harder. Off to the side, Boy glares at them as they glare at each other. Suddenly, he cuts in. She gasps as he takes her in his arms. Etienne watches. Glaring. This really is Bobulova s film, billing notwithstanding, and she makes a lovely Gabrielle. She easily convinces us of the young woman s determination, stubbornness and deep longing for love and faithfulness. The supporting cast is equally fine, especially Sitruk as Coco s great love. The filmmakers are careful to offer telling details about Chanel s work her use of jersey for high fashion, her decree that all of her creations would be hand sewn, the creation of Chanel No. 5 perfume, the evolution of the Chanel suit, and, yes, the invention of the little black dress. We come away from the film understanding how Chanel s skill at making her designs appropriate for the times and for how women lived created a look that has never gone out of style. Even before she died in 1971, Chanel had to witness her life turned into a Broadway musical. At first, she was thrilled that Hepburn would star in "Coco." When she learned it was Katharine and not Audrey, she was horrified. Would she have been horrified by MacLaine s portrayal? Probably not. Oh, it s not very French and the dialogue is absurd, but somehow from this divine mess emerges something that at least approximates a woman you have to admire. Even delivering a performance that rarely rises above off the rack, MacLaine has never gone out of style either.
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