Karl Lagerfeld’s period film Once Upon a Time, which stars Keira Knightley as Coco Chanel, is finally here–all 15 glorious minutes of it.
The designer-cum-director reportedly gave the actors (including Knightley, Clotilde Hesme, Lindsey Wixson, Stella Tennant, Tallulah Harlech) their lines just moments before shooting–which makes a lot of sense when you watch the film.
The dialogue is sometimes stilted and awkward. There’s one moment when Knightley, describing a hat to Amanda Harlech’s “lady of society” character, seems at a loss for words. But then, since Lagerfeld was supposedly going for a “natural effect” with the dialogue, that may have been the point. Or, maybe it has to do with the inexperience of some of the cast. Let’s just say we hope Wixson, who plays Miss Wonderbilt (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), doesn’t try to make the transition from model to model/actress any time soon. Either way, it seems that long pauses and sort of awkward dialogue may be becoming a Chanel signature of sorts.
That being said, there’s still a lot to enjoy about the film, which is set at the first Chanel store in Deauville, circa 1913. We see Chanel interact with the city’s fashionable ladies and come up with the inspiration behind some of her most iconic designs. When Tennant’s character Lady de Grey tells Chanel she’s wearing her husband’s jacket, the designer remarks, “Tweed jackets are very chic on a woman.”
And of course it’s worth watching for the star cameos alone. Along with Tennant, the Harlechs, Wixson, Knightley, and Hesme, Ashleigh Good, Caroline de Maigret, Saskia de Brauw, Brad Kroenig, Hudson Kroenig, Jamie Bochert, Baptiste Giabiconi, Sebastien Jondeau, Jake Davies, and more also make appearances in amazing period costumes.
Watch the film below.