Keira Knightley plays the uncatchable madame flying through Italy on a motorcycle in this branded film from Chanel.
Chanel is one of the smartest companies at deploying video in augmenting their brand. Sometimes they make slick commercials, leveraging a big creative name like Martin Scorcese in last year’s spot for Bleu de Chanel. Other times creative director Karl Lagerfeld will direct ambitious and sometimes bizarre video art projects which can be whimsical or experimental. Starring models, these tend to be more insular, marketed to the fashion world itself, like in last year’s Remember Now.
But a winning motif for the company has been when they blend the two, to create fabulous long-form commercials re-pairing big-name directors with the glamorous female leads from their pictures. This stretches back to 2005 and the film many point to as the reinvigoration of the fashion film, Baz Luhrmann and Nicole Kidman’s 3 minute short film for Chanel No. 5. That was followed up by Audrey Tatou and Jean-Pierre Jeunet of Amelie-fame pairing up in 2009 for another Chanel No. 5 short film.
Now, Keira Knightley, the face of the fragrance Coco Mademoiselle, gets the same treatment. Already she has the slick commercial, this impressive TV spot from 2007, but now she and her Atonement-director Joe Wright, who directed the 2007 commercial, try their hand at long-form, creating this incredibly sexy film, which debuts today.
And holy cow, Ms. Knightley puts on quite a performance. I think the question of her talent is pretty much a settled debate nowadays, however, in something as ultimately disposable as this, she really dials up the sultry. I don’t think that many of your typical Hollywood pretty faces could have pulled off a performance half as satisfying. She plays your basic unattainable superwoman, transitioning from home to a fashion studio astride a powerful motorbike, racing through the streets of an idyllic looking European city, arriving just in time for a fashion shoot that doubles as a seduction. The film is candy, but engrossing, and a perfect fit for the perfume line, which after all is named after the company’ celebrated founder and female icon, Coco Chanel.