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Chéri - Eine Komödie der Eitelkeiten (2009) HD online

Chéri - Eine Komödie der Eitelkeiten (2009) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Comedy / Drama / Romance
Original Title: Chéri
Director: Stephen Frears
Writers: Christopher Hampton,Colette
Released: 2009
Budget: $23,000,000
Duration: 1h 40min
Video type: Movie
During France's belle époque before World War I, elegant cars, mansions, and servants defined the lives of les grandes horizontals, the courtesans of kings and millionaires. One of the most successful, Lea de Lonval, is approaching a certain age when an older associate, Charlotte Peloux, asks Lea to take on her 19 year old son, whom Lea has called Chéri since he was a child. They become lovers and, to their surprise, the relationship lasts six years. When it ends abruptly with a marriage his mother arranges to the daughter of another courtesan, Lea finds herself lonely. Has she fallen in love? If so, do she -- and Chéri - have any choices?

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michelle Pfeiffer Michelle Pfeiffer - Lea
Frances Tomelty Frances Tomelty - Rose
Tom Burke Tom Burke - Vicomte Desmond
Rupert Friend Rupert Friend - Chéri
Hubert Tellegen Hubert Tellegen - Ernest
Joe Sheridan Joe Sheridan - Marcel
Kathy Bates Kathy Bates - Madame Peloux
Toby Kebbell Toby Kebbell - Patron
Felicity Jones Felicity Jones - Edmée
Iben Hjejle Iben Hjejle - Marie Laure
Alain Churin Alain Churin - Priest
Bette Bourne Bette Bourne - Baronne
Nichola McAuliffe Nichola McAuliffe - Madame Aldonza
Andras Hamori Andras Hamori - Silver Haired Industrialist
Gaye Brown Gaye Brown - Lili

When the project was in development during the 1990s, Jessica Lange planned to star as Léa de Lonval.

Iben Hjejle was personally called up by director Stephen Frears and didn't know she was going to star opposite big Hollywood names before she began filming her first scene.

The project reunited Michelle Pfeiffer, Director Stephen Frears and writer Christopher Hampton. All three had worked together on Dangerous Liasons 20 years earlier.

Terrence McNally wrote the role of Frankie in the play "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" especially for Kathy Bates. When it came to casting the role for the movie version Frankie and Johnny (1991), Bates lost the role to Michelle Pfeiffer, her co-star in this movie.

French visa # 120988.



Reviews: [25]

  • avatar

    Nirn

    Stephen Frears has created some powerful and very well crafted movies: 'Dangerous Liaisons', 'My Beautiful Laundrette', 'The Grifters', 'The Queen', 'Prick up your Ears', 'Dirty Pretty Things', etc. One would expect that his experience in dealing with edgy issues would make him the perfect choice for adapting the famous French writer of 'naughty novels' - Colette - but somewhere in the flow of this production, perhaps in the Christopher Hampton's adaptation of the novel to screenplay, the original stories become perfumed and sanitized. And the reasons why this happened remain obscure.

    The story is simple: courtesans in Paris must eventually retire form their lives of becoming wealthy through pleasing men of the higher class, and either they live out their lives in the luxuries of fluff or they must confront their aging and feel pangs of remorse as they end their lives alone, without a man to bolster them. Lea de Lonval (Michelle Pfeiffer) has been longtime 'friends' with Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates), even to the point of nurturing Madame's son Chéri (Rupert Friend) as he approaches manhood. Madame asks Lea to 'polish' Chéri for other women and after what might have been a brief fling in Normandy, the young Chéri and the aging Lea fall into a six year relationship. But as Madame realizes she needs grandchildren, she eventually finds a proper girl Edmee (Felicity Jones) for Chéri to marry. The remainder of the story is how these two age-disparate characters adapt to the 'social rules' of La Belle Epoque, suggesting that even under extraordinary circumstances the power of love is an issue that must be confronted.

    Despite the performances by Pfeiffer and Friend (and even the miscast Bates) the story feels somehow sterile. Perhaps it is the out of place use of a male narrator who gives the film an unnecessary feeling of being a documentary, or the somewhat overused musical score of Alexandre Desplat, or the emphasis on costumes that hardly add to the beauty of Pfeiffer as Lea that keep the production grounded. It is a pleasant enough film, but hardly a memorable one. Grady Harp
  • avatar

    Delan

    "Cheri" is the nickname given by Lea (Michelle Pfeiffer) to the young, much younger Fred, whom she brings to discover the truth about lovemaking, and unintentionally but inevitably, about loving. The actor playing Fred is handsome, attractive, but who really hits the sign (as usually, I would say) is Michelle Pfeiffer, who proved to be very courageous in playing a role where she constantly repeats to herself how old she is. Indeed, her beauty, elegance and refinement are always there to remind her and us how difficult it is to come to terms with ageing, mainly when beauty has been the very essence of your life.

    The plot is almost absent, being the story more based on emotions, moods, sensations, rather than facts, and the movie in the end manages to capture the viewer, thanks to its capability to render the emotional side through glances and through effective and intense framing of both characters and situations: the last one is incisive, almost paralyzing.

    Ironic and funny moments are not absent, mainly when Cathy Bates, playing the odd, high spirited mother, enters the scene, but the overall tone is a melancholic one, above all for the female public, we cannot but sympathize with Lea's inner strength, and at the same time feel moved by her deep suffering. From an aesthetic point of view, the movie is to be visually appreciated for its pleasant settings, its refined costumes and in general for a deep care for precious details.
  • avatar

    Vareyma

    You can't really tell as far as Stephen Frears is concerned. After the sensational "The Queen" another film that is only slightly more tolerable than the dreadful "Mrs Henderson Presents" Here Rupert Friend in the title role is a delightful throwback to Oscar Wilde territory. You understand Pfeiffer loosing her head for him but not why he looses his for her. She's certainly beautiful but lifeless. She looks more distant than ever, struggling to find the tone of her performance and I'm afraid she never does. Not a glimpse of the Pfeiffer from "The Age Of Innocence" or even "The Fabulous Baker Boys" No sense of period or of intention. Kathy Bates is an annoying over the top caricature but Ruper Friend is the oasis that makes the aridity of this nonsense truly bearable. I had seen him before, most remarkably, in another story with another older woman, Joan Plowright in "Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont" He is an actor with, clearly, a few aces up his sleeve and I bet he will dazzle us with other surprises in the future. Here he's badly served by his director, co-stars costume designer, make up and hair and in spite of that he emerges as the only reason to see this film.
  • avatar

    Perdana

    One of the delights of this film is the lushness and perfection of the sets and costumes of the Belle Époque (c. 1890-1914). The sets and costumes are so gorgeous they threaten to overwhelm the actors. Threaten, but don't succeed. Michelle Pfeiffer is sensual and beautiful as the aging courtesan Lea—a woman approaching a "certain age," as the narrator (Stephen Frears) informs us. Lea has known the love and admiration of the wealthiest men in Europe, many of them titled. She has been wise to keep her heart out of her affairs. Then Fred, ("Cheri") the son of another courtesan (Kathy Bates) enters Lea's life, and she finds herself caring for the aimless but charming young man more than she should.

    Kathy Bates is wonderful as Madame Peloux, a former competitor of Lea's—a woman who, if you squint hard (and catch the "portrait" of a younger Peloux) you can imagine having a gamine charm years before. Bates' acting moves effortlessly from laughing delightedly at smutty gossip to quickly assuming the pouting self-righteous expression of a disapproving mama as she discusses her son. From former courtesan to bourgeois matron in the blink of an eye. Bates carries this quick switch act off several times in the movie, and it's a pleasure to watch her skill at these rapid changes. The sets and costumes of Mme. Peloux, heavy 2nd Empire furnishings, stiff wired dressed with bustles, are beautifully contrasted with Lea's lighter look—slender, graceful, light. The clothes each character wears, and the styles of their respective homes, gives some subtext to the story. Mme. Peloux, a bit older than Lea, had her taste formed in an era of overdone stuffy pretentiousness, while Lea, a bit younger, has embraced the airy beauty of Art Nouveau.

    The stultifying life of aging and former courtesans is well-depicted—unwelcome in respectable society they have to fall back on each other's company. Former competitors, they still can't help sniping at one another. Lea, as one of the youngest of the group, moves like a sylph among the faded charms of her cohort. One amazing scene: Among a bower of faded courtesans, one of them, a busty brassy red-head, cuddles and squeals like a teenager as she introduces her lover, a young man who's the son of one this woman's "official lovers." As she overwhelms the rather weedy young man with her caresses, the viewer can see Lea's discomfort—seeing the loud red-head and her boy lover seems like seeing a grotesque mockery of herself and Cheri.

    Cheri, the title character, is played by Rupert Friend (Prince Albert in "The Young Victoria," and Mr. Wickham in the 2005 version of "Pride and Prejudice"). He's a young man who has only two responsibilities: marry, and manage the large amount of money his mother settles on him at his marriage. He's a young man without purpose, but finds love with Lea. What starts as a light-hearted affair turns into a relationship both Cheri and Lea need more than they realized. Lea and Cheri's affair ends—as does the wonderful era depicted in this gorgeous movie. The war ends Lea and Cheri's world. The 20th century starts with bleakness and hardness after the golden afternoon of La Belle Époque. We are indebted to Collette and Stephen Frears for showing us the loveliness, and even the artful decadence, of that time, and we are indebted to the talented cast for giving life to the "demi-monde" ("half-world") of that era.
  • avatar

    Era

    Why is this movie rated as 6.2 out of 10? Are people blind? Crowds of movie goers flock to Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, and stuff like Cheri are completely overlooked. This is a delicious flick, with a great unusual and touching romantic story, gorgeous early 20th century atmosphere and brilliant interpretations from gorgeous Michele Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates. The story flows slow and stylishly like the surroundings of Belle Epoque and the final is so moving it makes a stone cry. Definitely the best movie I saw in 2009 together with Bright Star from Jane Campion. Please go see it and don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.
  • avatar

    Zut

    The years preceding the first world war in Paris were characterized by a style of living never equaled again in any other period of time. It was a time of living lavishly in a society where money mattered more than anything. The newly rich, as well as the royalty, loved playing in what became the place where they went to party and see one another, Maxim's.

    Lea De Lonval was a high class act. She was highly sought by men searching for an adventure, outside their marriage. As the story begins, Lea goes to pay a visit to an old friend, Madame Peloux, a former courtesan, now living in splendor from the fortune she made out of her good fortune while playing the field. Lea is pleasantly surprised to find Cheri, the son of her friend, whom she had not seen in a while.

    Cheri is instantly smitten by the gorgeous creature he used to know as Nounou. Lean, in turn, feels suddenly alive with the attentions the young man is paying to her. What Lea started as an innocent affair turned into a relationship of six years. Madame Peloux, wanting to have Cheri settled, arranges a marriage with the young daughter of Marie Laure, another woman in their circle who is eager to marry the girl.

    Lea is not prepared for what happens to her after Cheri goes away, for she had fallen in love at this stage of her life. Trying to forget the young man, she goes to Biarritz in search of adventure, but it is too late for her. She cannot forget the man that brought a new lease to her life. Cheri, on the other hand, is still obsessed with Lea, but during their last meeting she points out to the fact she has aged and he will be better off trying to make a go with his own wife, an unselfish deed on her part.

    Stephen Frears directed the Colette novel about that golden era in Paris. The adaptation was by Christopher Hampton, a distinguished playwright himself. The production offers a glimpse on that society, focusing on one woman who falls in love against her better judgment and must pay for the pleasure she got. One would have imagined this take on Colette's work could not have a great impact if not done by the French, but Mr. Frears and Mr. Hampton pulled a surprise with this enjoyable film.

    Michelle Pfeiffer makes a wonderful Lea. She has been one of the most beautiful presence in the movies ever since her beginning. Now, approaching fifty, her looks have not diminished as she glows with a different light. Obviously, she understood the tragedy for the woman she is playing where looks mattered more than anything, and aging was indeed a tragedy. Rupert Friend makes a dashing Cherie. Kathy Bates has some fun playing Madame Peloux, the aging former courtesan. Felicity Jones is seen as Edmee.

    Cinematographer Darius Khondij captures the atmosphere required of the period where the action is set in vivid colors. The tuneful musical score by Alexandre Desplat adds texture to the film. Stephen Frears got an excellent work out of his cast and crew.
  • avatar

    Swordsong

    The Classic Cinema in Elsternwick (Melbourne) Australia go to a certain amount of trouble with movie previews. So yesterday with Cheri we had a violinist playing in the cinema before the preview session, a complimentary afternoon tea.. normally a box of cakes and goodies (but only a single one yesterday), a range of teas in yesterday's case (no coffee). In the past a glass of champagne has been offered and sometimes there are lucky seats with prizes under them.

    So perhaps no coffee yesterday was a forerunner of what was to come. The list of cons is sadly far greater than the pros

    CONS The relationship between Michelle Pfeiffers character and Rupert Friends character is I am sorry to say more like Aunty and nephew. There's a passion missing here. Are they out lunching or enjoying other pleasures? No it's all indoors and not very exciting to watch at all. Ms Pfeiffer has wonderful hair, carries her age well (50 is not old), has perhaps nice back assuming no body doubles. But for me neither she or her character are not warm enough or sensual enough. In fact the lady I sat next to a cinema had more ooh la la. And she was a paying customer like us! And on the plus side of 60. Rupert Friend as someone here alluded to was too Olivia Bloom like, foppish almost gay if you like. His dark hair and pale skin gave him a very unhealthy allure.

    Set in pre WW1 Paris and France I was looking forward to a variety of old veteran cars (only 3 in the whole show... perhaps the vehicle budget was limited.. surely there must be more veteran cars in France). The Edwardian style fashions I love but for these give me the Great Race 1965 style. Sadly there was no Mademsoielle Dubois here (Natalie Wood) to carry this off yet the period was the same.

    One of the problems with Cheri is it lacked oxygen, location, recreations of pre WW1 France, any sense of movement timewise and romance on any level. In many ways the film was shot like a play. A few different sets mainly indoors but little of interest outdoors. Very tightly framed shots of gravel driveways in stately old homes... full stop.

    Regarding the other courtesans with the exception of Cheri's wifes mother these were not a very stunning lot. Kathy Bates as a courtesan? Surely no man would pay serious money for her pleasures unless the supply of other courtesans was very short. Clearly these 19th century, 20th century gentlemen were either too free with their money or not fussy enough?

    Perhaps Stephen Frears should have stayed on his side of the English Channel. Mrs Henderson presents was quite enjoyable... it did have Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins and the lovely Kelly Reilly.

    Cheri should clearly have been left to the French, done with French actors and actresses in French with English sub-titles. What we have here sadly is about as French as McDonalds and must surely be a lost opportunity. Very disappointing.
  • avatar

    porosh

    There are several very good reasons to see Cheri, directed by Stephen Frears and written by Christopher Hampton from the novel by Colette. It's a beautifully made costume drama, shot in some wonderful locations. It's well scripted (although it does wander off track and get a little rambling in the middle)and it's moderately entertaining, although probably only for a limited audience. But the best reason of all is to see some really interesting performances from an array of predominantly female actors.

    Michelle Pfeiffer makes a very welcome and long overdue return to center stage, as Lea de Lonval, a Belle Epoch (ie turn of the 20th century) courtesan in Paris. Lea is ready to retire from her profession, the business of sex, and takes up with the son of a fellow courtesan, the beautiful, languid Cheri (meaning Darling), not for money this time but for love. Pfeiffer is radiant in the part, and watching her is a sheer pleasure.

    Cheri is played by Rupert Friend, who keeps popping up on my radar as one of the more interesting and talented of the young male actors around. He seems to be taking his career slowly but carefully, picking some interesting roles. I first spotted him in Pride and Prejudice, as wicked Mr Wickham, after which he was excellent in Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, opposite Joan Plowright. I thought at that time how much like Orlando Bloom he looks, but luckily he is a far better actor, and will, I think, ultimately have a longer shelf life.

    Also fabulous is Kathy Bates as Cheri's mother. It is her plan to marry him off to Edmee, the young daughter of a fellow courtesan, taking him away from his true love Lea (his senior by many years) that sets the scene for what will become a tragedy. The courtesans were hugely rich, but lived lives of isolated splendor. Not accepted by polite society, they turned to each other for social interaction, a small, intense and rather incestuous circle. Bates' Madam Peloux needs to marry Cheri off but has limited options. Edmee, the daughter of another old rival, is available. Both are an only child set to inherit large sums of money. Business takes precedence, marriage is a joining of fortunes and love means nothing, leaving everyone unhappy, Edmee, Cheri and Lea.

    Perhaps almost as interesting - or even more so – than this movie's story, is the story of Colette herself. The novelist lived from 1873 to 1954, married three times, had many lovers of both genders including her stepson, played the music halls, wrote an opera with Ravel, ran a hospital during WW1 and helped her Jewish friends survive during WW2. She wrote some fifty novels including Gigi, (made into a play and an award winning musical), and is often referred to as one of France's greatest writers.

    And I can't review this movie without saying how quite wonderful it is, for once, to see an older woman entangled with a sexy younger man, and how rarely we get to see that on screen. Time and time again, we see quite ridiculous age gaps between male stars and much, much younger women. Here, Pfeiffer and Friend make the opposite work perfectly. I appreciate that costume drama has a fairly limited audience, and this movie is certainly not perfect, but personally - I loved it!!
  • avatar

    Brightfury

    A film that fails to ignite much interest. Not for the first time in recent memory Pfeiffer plays the older woman in love with a younger man, in this case one much younger. Scorsese and Pfeiffer covered some of this same territory in The Age of Innocence, and to much better effect. She is a courtesan, he the son of another famous courtesan. He has led an indolent life, spoiled throughout his entire existence. As a result he has grown to manhood completely divorced from any feelings for anyone. Instead he allows himself to be forced into a hastily arranged marriage by his ambitious mother, to a young woman he neither loves nor cares for. He is indifferent to his wife and drifts back and forth between the two women.

    The script is pretty nondescript in places. Pfeiffer has a few decent lines and still radiates enough screen presence to carry some scenes, and Bates matches her well. Most of the problems with this film are based on the male character Cheri (Friend). He is left with too little too late for us to care about his fate. lnstead he allows himself to have his opinions formed for him by his mother and and Lea who also does much of what passes for thinking on his behalf as well. He is married off to a woman he doesn't love, and then proceeds to drift between her and his lover without ever showing any real sense of commitment to either.

    Due to the limitations of the script and his character, he comes across as only half formed, and too many scenes end with him staring blankly into the camera, looking quite vacuous, and a penny for his thoughts would be an understatement of inflation. lt is not easy to know which audience this movie is aimed at. It is not quite glamorous enough to be mainstream nor is it memorable enough to be art-house. As a result it meanders along without ever really being anything more than an exercise in self indulgence. That is a pity as l was expecting a fair bit more from those involved.
  • avatar

    Snake Rocking

    How wonderful to escape recessionary 2009 for a more glamorous world - Paris of the Belle Epoque. Every scene is a feast for the eye - including some marvellous Art Nouveau interiors - and the sun always seems to be shining on dewy gardens or a blue-green sea.

    And in these luscious settings unfolds a tale of love with a capital L. It is the tale of a strong, wise heroine and a poetic, spoilt young man - a couple who never thought they would find love, both of whom recognise in their different ways that it has found them.

    The acting is superb. Michelle Pfeiffer plays the heroine splendidly, and Rupert Friend has the beauty of a figure from a Burne-Jones painting. Christopher Hampton's screenplay is witty and seductive. The film score sets the tale off perfectly.
  • avatar

    huckman

    'Chéri' is a product of the great English team that created the brilliant Choderlos de Laclos adaptation 'Dangerous Liasons' (1988), Christopher Hampton the writer, as prolific as he is adept at turning French texts into English movies or plays, and Stephen Frears the director, who brought us such greatness as (to name a few) 'The Queen,' 'Dirty pretty Things,' 'The Grifters,' 'Prick Up Your Ears', and the novelistically rich bisexual story of Pakistanis and Cockneys in London, 'My Beautiful Laundrette'. This new film moreover is graced by the presence of Michelle Pfeiffer in the central part of Colette's aging courtesan Léa de Lonval. Pfeiffer had the pivotal role of Madame de Tourvel in 'Dangerous Liaisons.' Again this is a movie where French people speak English, but that worked in the audacious and sumptuous Frears/Hampton 'Dangerous Liaisons,' and it works again here.

    It's two decades later and Hampton, Frears, and Pfeiffer, though they show no sign of waning gifts, don't quite bring back the magic; but still 'Chéri,' adapted from two 1920's short novels by Colette (not as strong material as de Laclos' epistolary novel), is nicely paced and gorgeous to look at, and Michelle is a wondrously beautiful fifty-year-old and still a delicious actress. Rupert Friend, as Léa's young beau Fred Peloux, nicknamed Chéri, isn't too hard on the eyes either as the young man, though he's a bit difficult to accept as a 19-year-old at first (then the study jumps forward to six years later). Friend is actually around 27, and for this role, a decidedly decadent-looking 27 at that.

    But decadent is what the part calls for. Chéri himself is the son of an extremely rich courtesan. Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates, in elaborate late 19th-century garb, playing broadly enough to be Lady Bracknell in 'The Importance of Being Earnest') has spoiled the boy rotten, he is completely lazy, and she turns him over to Léa for training. This he might have got, except that they belie all but dime novel expectations and fall madly in love with each other and remain together for six years, whereupon Chéri suddenly decides to get married, to Edmée (Felicity Jones), the daughter of another courtesan who has done well off her lovers, and from then on things get complicated. All through the six years of the relationship Léa so adores Chéri, she hasn't the detachment to train him and just lets him do what he wants.

    Art Nouveau curlicues swirl throughout this beautifully designed film, and Pfeiffer's looks and costumes are marvels of new deco tastes: the story runs from the end of the Belle Époque to WWI. Relationships with several servants become important as they are chatted up and asked for advice, which sometimes they are smart enough not to give. Urban gardens are absolutely lush in the nineteenth-century manner, and all the visuals manage to be impossibly rich without being too distracting. But it all begins and ends with the casting, and though Bates' broadness might be obtrusive, it isn't, because her role is relatively small. Rupert Friend is wonderfully pale and sickly looking, yet sexy. Chéri is spoiled, and a bit androgynous, as indicated by his constant desire to wear Léa's pearl necklace, which he says looks just as good on him.

    Chéri soon tires of his wife, who at eighteen seems indecently young to him. We know what's going to happen. The only flaw of this enjoyable adaptation is that it happens too fast and the emotional complications don't come across as powerfully as they might, especially when we think of the ending of 'Dangerous Liaisons' and Glenn Close's devastating collapse in the theater. In his effort to fuse together the two Colette Chéri novels Hampton and Frears rush through the latter stages of the story. They also have a bit of trouble with tone. Having started out in a light comic vein, they aren't altogether able to modulate into the darker moods of emotional confusion, disenchantment, and fear of aging.

    The latter is the issue Léa faces all along. Michelle Pfeiffer's lovely but no longer young face, photographed in complimentary lights and then somewhat more cruel ones, in itself tells a rich story that compensates for shortcomings in this generally buoyant and entertaining adaptation.
  • avatar

    Adoraris

    My feelings about this film swung between two competing schools of thought as I watched it.

    One - do I feel any attachment and engagement in this story of Belle Epoque Paris where an extremely wealthy courtesan falls in love with the son of an extremely wealthy courtesan, a young man with apparently few redeeming features to his character ?

    and

    Two - This is a very well made and acted film - Michelle Pfeiffer is excellent, drawing me into the feelings of her character as the film progressed and Rupert Friend makes much of a role that I'm sure other young actors would have found too complex

    In the end I settled closer to thought number two - this is a film with much to say about love and who we fall in love with.

    I was fortunate to attend a screening of this film at which both the writer - Christopher Hampton & director Stephen Frears were present and enjoyed listening to them talk about the film, it's development and their hopes for it. Two very engaging characters who proved to be happy to answer all kinds of questions that we the Nottingham audience could throw at them
  • avatar

    Coiwield

    During their idle moments or romantic longing, the filmmaker employs the flashback to show how both Cheri(Rupert Friend) and Lea(Michelle Pfeiffer) are never far from each other's minds. He's twenty-five; she's forty-nine, old enough to be, you know. A longtime friend/rival of his mother, Cheri knew the prostitute as "Nunu" before she became his lover. Relegated to the backstory, by omitting any dramatization of their former roles as adult and child, "Cheri" is complicit in its endorsement of this relationship, although the nickname the boy coined for Lea does at least acknowledge the momentous threshold that the old associates embarked on when their relationship turned from maternal to physical. An arranged marriage orchestrated by Cheri's mother(and Lea's one-time rival) Mme. Peloux(Kathy Bates), however, ends their six-year run, and on the boy's wedding day, the diegesis becomes a remembering one, as each lover conjures up the other at their most beautiful. Even in the world of courtesans, as in so-called polite society, Oedipal relationships are thwarted by too many factors that love simply can't overcome. But since the film makes judicious use of the flashback, the audience identifies with this impossible love. This adaptation of Colette's two semi-autobiographical novels "Cheri"(1920), and "Le fin de Cheri"(1926) sutures itself(Lea's flashbacks are always of Cheri as a man, not a boy), but the sutures aren't so foolproof that the love affair isn't up for a little critical scrutinization. The next time that Lea reminisces about Cheri, her idyllic abstraction of romance becomes flawed by a preceding flashback of another cross-generational couple whom she had met in Mme. Peloux's orchard. Described by her friend/rival as "the happy couple", Lea is confronted by a grotesque mirror of her own relationship with Cheri. The happy couple's disparate gap in age borders on sexual perversity, and projects a version of the original relationship that Lea had with Cheri during the boy's formative years. This mother/son dynamic, made discreet by Lea's ability to project a facade of timelessness, forces the well-maintained courtesan to reflect that her sex bomb years are finite and fast-approaching its expiration date. In her two-fold flashback, Cheri's bedroom eyes are staring back at not just his significant other, but a mother figure as well, to her dismay.

    A wife in name only, Edmee(Felicity Jones) understands Cheri, the child of a whore, as she is one too, when the young girl concurs with his observance of retrospective hindsight that they were orphaned by their respective matriarchal libertines. With this admission, "Cheri" overstates its impetus for the self-described foundling's attraction towards Lea. But stripping Mme. Peloux's familial title so formally serves the specific function of recasting her in non-Oedipal terms. Since the complex that Sigmund Freud developed can't work without triangulation; can't work without the presence of a father(who could be any number of his mother's johns) to signify the mother he wants to f***. Dictated by heterogeneous rules that a subculture entails, Mme. Peloux acts against the nature of a parent when she hands over her son to a woman of motherly proportions who can't be trusted to act in a platonic capacity. She does son, in a vicarious sense where Lea can actualize all the physical fantasies that Peloux may harbor, but resist pursuing, due to the technicality of blood. Neither mother(in her son's estimation), nor lover, she has no tangible role in Cheri's life. The felicitous manner in which she dispenses information about the newlyweds' conjugality(she tauntingly remarks to Lea on the weather in Italy, site of her lover's honeymoon) seems derived from envy. Although the union was financially motivated, it doesn't seem to be the basis of Mme. Peloux's campaign to humiliate Lea, since no stern admonition against threatening the compounded wealth between the children of whores are never made. After six years of vicarious satiation by Lea's sexual exploits with her son, through the vehicle of disparaging rhetoric, she reminds the courtesan that she's aging and turns her son's lover back into a mother. Cheri knows it too. While Lea makes travel arrangements over the phone, the young man observes her through a crack in the door. Unaware of being monitored, the audience supplies their own flashback through Cheri's eyes, recalling scenes in which the boy saw her Lea's colleagues in restaurants and opium dens. They looked old.
  • avatar

    Yggdi

    A rapture of visual, audio and cinematic emotional brilliance all tied with a killer last line. What a wonder is set before the viewer when one enters the world of "Cheri". The visual richness of this parfait of the Belle Epoch is breathtaking from the rich creamy art neuveau architecture to the gloriously realized costumes of the early 20th century. What they only indicated in "Titanic" of the same period costumes. Explodes in luxury and in a sense informs the eye to the scene at hand and seems less costume than authentic clothing. As Cinema "Cheri" succeeds as more than an adaptation of a Collette novel but becomes a world unto it's own. Here we are presented with some of our finest female performers at the top of their game. In short I am speaking of Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates. As former courtesan rivals who are now aging friends they come together to define the last part of their lives and the beginning of Bates' son's life in a remarkable way. Kathy Bates goes deep into the complexities of her mix of comedy and nuanced drama in the same way she did with Annie Wilkes. Not to say that the characters of Annie and Madame Peloux are anything alike. But Miss Bates takes this role to a superior level while all the while not letting you see her do her magic. She is just THERE! The scene where her face decays from a radioactively sunny laugh to reveal her true deepest disgust her spoiled soul is priceless. Then there is Michelle Pfeiffer as Lea de Lonval, at fifty one she may be older that the literary Lea but she has never been more luminous or nearly goddess like. To look at her is to look upon a woman of a certain age that is ageless in her embrace of times changing hands upon her face. But there is more. This may be the pinnacle of her career, the role of her lifetime. She is Lea in so many levels both within her acting and in a sense as an actress. She is stunning and brings forth the soul of a great character as only our finest actors can. But all of this would seem a delightful trifle, a light story of an aging courtesan and her young lover if it were not for the narration that gives the film added depth and gravitas. I asked a friend today what he thought of the final outcome of the story. Of what the narrator reveals of what became of Cheri. He tossed it off lightly and said that it seemed an after thought. He could not have been more wrong. He missed the whole point of the film. The last lines of the film that tell us of the ultimate fate of Lea and Cheri are what give this film an emotional strength, irony, and ultimately heart wrenching tragedy. It is the final twist set into a stunning jewel of a film that is as captivating and spellbinding as Lea's mysterious emerald ring.
  • avatar

    Ka

    While I thought the idea of the movie interesting--a May/December romance with Lea, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, being much older--it was distasteful that Michelle's character was like an aunt to the nineteen-year-old Cheri, played by Rupert Friend. There was a hint that Cheri's mother, Kathy Bates (who I always love), wanted the affair to occur to keep Cheri out of trouble. That seemed a bit creepy. As for the romance, there was no chemistry between Lea and Cheri, and no character development for Cheri, even though the movie was named for him. He remained sullen, brooding, immature and amazingly dull, although I don't blame Rupert Friend for the performance. I think the script, direction and editing were to blame, if not the story itself. The love scenes were tasteful but not believable. The pair were together for six years, but the relationship didn't seem to have love or even lust at its core, just a boredom being filled with champagne and satin sheets. Michelle was the reason my rating was a 3 rather than a 1. She did a good job with what she had to work with and I was invested in her character. However, the character was ultimately a disappointment. I think we were supposed to come away with an experience of a slice of French culture (courtesans) during La Belle Epoque, but it didn't work. I was stunned to see a car pull up to a country house; it seemed out of place. The director had no idea how to set the time and place properly. The overlong verbal narration at the beginning and end of the movie was not only annoying (I hate being told what should be shown) but it didn't tell us things helpful to the story. The voice-over at the end was particularly awful because Cheri's entire life's arc was given three sentences. If they had edited that out, I may have been able to nudge my rating to a 5.
  • avatar

    GoodBuyMyFriends

    I can't (or won't) criticize the source material, as Colette wrote primarily for women, and I'm a man. My wife enjoys Colette's oeuvre, so I'll take her word for the quality of the stories.

    However, this film fails at anything approaching bringing a story to life, despite some appealing sets. Some of the blame must be laid upon the director and producers who decided to make another one of those "Americans playing non-Americans, please suspend your disbelief" films. How is it possible to suspend the disbelief that Kathy Bates was ever a desirable courtesan, much less French?! Much of the costuming, hairstyles and makeup are period-wrong. The re-use of exterior settings (particularly the recurring "car arriving at the manor house" scenes) gives the film a cheapness.

    But the majority of the blame has to be assigned to Michelle Pfeiffer whose acting skills are seldom detectable here. Nearly every line is delivered as if she's reading a Barbara Courtland novel aloud to an audience in the next room. Her voice is flat and declamatory, and she seldom shows any depth or subtlety. If she was reading for an audio-book, this might be acceptable; for a film, it's an endless line of sour notes.

    "Cheri" mostly reads as soft-core porn from the 1970s, like one of the "Emmanuelle" series, or perhaps David Hamilton's work. It aspires to be elegant but just looks posed. It tries to be sophisticated, but never rises above soap opera. It attempts to give us a believable relationship, but it's really just actors going through the motions. I didn't buy any of it for a second. And my Colette-reading wife fared no better than I.
  • avatar

    Siramath

    Well worn out tale about a boy/young man and his long term affair with a mature woman, in this case a rich, retired French prostitute. How many times are they going to film this version of the old May/September(pick your months)romance, all the while trying to make it as fresh as the first time told so many years ago? After hundreds of versions, I wish they would stop. It has been done to death. I was bored after the first 20 minutes and it did not change for me. This was a draggy version with not much sensible reasoning to anything, and the same type of stylish but over-scripted scenes just went on and on and on with no interesting variation to them. This tale has surely been done much better many times.

    The film was beautifully shot, with wonderful period sets and costuming. The acting was mostly noteworthy, especially that of the marvelous Kathy Bates, who played the spoiled, selfish and immature boy's loving and cheerful mother. Michelle Pfeiffer played the retired "courtesan" lover with her usual reserved detachment, but her aged watery and bloodshot eyes throughout made me think she was perhaps too old for the role. This movie was the type of vehicle that used to be made for Julie Christie forty or so years ago, as it displayed Pfeiffer adoringly from every angle like she was the Mona Lisa. Just like those old Christie films, this indulgent style has seen its day and is now outdated.

    I attended this film to please my wife, but will never see this same old story again no matter if Stanley Kubrick comes back from the dead to film it and my wife threatens to leave me if I don't go with her. I've had it. Put this story out to pasture with some dignity left like you would do with an old horse.................. please?
  • avatar

    Mave

    For me this movie was underwhelming. Cheri as a character was vacant, and I struggled to believe there was anything in him that would attract Lea to him. He wasn't that attractive, or intriguing. He never SAYS anything, as Lea mentioned herself. And there was no real explanation of why they got together in the first place - even though it seemed set up by HIS mother... to what, keep him out of trouble? Implausible.

    Lea was a cute character. But Pfeiffer's portrayal was a touch bland. There was no great passion there.

    Cheri, who apparently had great "passionate" love for Lea, quickly and easily detached himself and married some other girl. A marriage which he took to fairly well for a while. This also seemed off.

    And then the ending? Stunned me. It just seemed unnecessary.

    I wouldn't watch this again, or recommend it. It's random and vacant.
  • avatar

    Xirmiu

    This makes the list of my all-time worst movies. The dialog was unimaginative, the "acting" was mostly posturing, the direction disjointed, and, I'm sorry, but the costumes and sets were not that spectacular given this historical period. Kathy Bates, who has created some memorable characters, this time created a caricature, with a performance that was overly broad and lacking in depth. Rupert Friend's angst-filled youth, besides being another caricature, was a performance that can best be described as dull and boring. And what was with that background music, which kept loudly intruding?

    I like Michelle Pfeiffer, and I like Kathy Bates. But I suppose every actor has an "Ishtar" and I'm afraid this is theirs.
  • avatar

    Water

    After you get over how beautiful the lighting makes 51 year old Michelle Pfeiffer playing her age and how old it makes 28 year old Rupert Friend playing 19, there's not much else to love about Cheri. Or maybe you can love the sumptuous 19th century Paris estates, cars, and gowns of the idle rich, whose lives will morph into something less glamorous as the Belle Epoque slides into WWI.

    Colette's two novels about Chéri (Friend) the son of wealthy courtesan Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates), are not just about an indolent but beautiful rich slacker; they also follow the good fortune of Lea de Lonval (Pfeiffer), an unusually beautiful and profitable courtesan who has shrewdly prepared herself for financial comfort but forget the cardinal rule of prostitutes: Don't fall in love.

    After six years of lover's paradise, Chéri and Lea part as the takes an arranged bride. And that's all there is, folks, as the film moves from a robust ramble about the various courtesans to a dreary hour of Twilight-like longing between this old-fashioned Harold and Maude. Director Steven Frears, who has had a fair share of intriguing films and characters, just lets the camera make love to Pfeiffer and Friend without fleshing out the characters to let is know what is so lovable to be longing for so long. Writer Christopher Hampton with Dangerous Liaisons and Atonement on his resume can't seem to muster a memorable line or develop his characters from flat clichés into round characters.

    I do concede that Kathy Bates delivering this line saved the film for the moment: "Don't you find that when the skin is a little less firm, it holds perfume so much better?" Said to Michelle Pfeiffer, these lines give Bates bite of the year honors and a brief respite from spare, meaningless dialogue.
  • avatar

    Perilanim

    The basis of this delight is adapted from the novels by Colette, Colette wrote about courtesans (influential ladies of the evening in times gone by), We all do remember GIGI.

    In the late 1980's Dangerous Liasons was made into an excellent film, (basically same subject). This award winning movie was written & directed by the same team that created CHERI, Christopher Hampton & Stephen Frears. These 2 talents have many other fine films in there resumes. Michelle Pfeiffer who was in Dangerous Liasons, is the star of Cheri.

    They created one more fine film.

    She portrays an older courtesan in love with a much younger man CHERI. Michele is superb in the role, it is possible that she can get an Oscar nomination for it.

    A newcomer to films Rupert Friend a handsome young man willing to live off an older women.This is until he meets this sweet innocent young lady. Felicity Jones does this role and does it quite well.

    Cathy Bates is Cheri's domineering mother.This is a hard role to play well & Cathy does well.

    The period is prior to the start of WW 1; the sets, costumes are excellent.

    This is a first class film & should be seen by all who like first class movies.

    Ratings: ***1/2 (out of 4) 94 points (out of 100) IMDb 9 (out of 10)
  • avatar

    The Sinners from Mitar

    Aging, Michelle Pfeiffer has become what Oscar Wilde called "That abomination of nature: A Handsome Woman". Her very trimmed figure looks spectacular sheathed in very glamorous Belle Epoque dresses and looking at her with contemporary eyes, that's fine.

    What the director forgot in recreating so beautifully, so painfully all the paraphernalia necessary to reproduce that magnificent time in history was... the ideal of feminine beauty at the time.

    We glaringly see it in the same old pictures (authentic) shown at the start of the movie, pictures of the great beauties then, like Lillie Langtry, Lia de Putti, la Bella Otero, etc. and it's obvious that those beauties where more on the side of Marilyn Monroe than Michelle Pfeiffer, who looks like a window display mannequin with no curves in the right places and no minimal waistline (Hourglass figure painfully obtained thanks to an oppressing corset, but there it was).

    To give us total recall of that time our protagonist should have been somebody a bit fatter than Ms. Pfeiffer, since we readily forget all the changes the feminine figure has suffered just in the last 100 years; what was considered fashionable or desirable then was quite different from now, and a thin woman was totally undesirable.

    The film is nice, in a very superficial way, since its main flaw is irreparable, because speaking English in this superbly French story, we get a jarring note, and it's this: All the "decadent" morality, social behavior, points of view about richly kept elegant cocottes by the upper class French men is something totally unknown to puritan Victorian English society. This utterly French "Menage a Trois" is totally lost in this English version of Paris life at the turn of the century.

    The house where she lives, the street, the interior locations, the dresses, all that is perfectly fine (more than fine, exquisite), but THE ESENCE of Colette masterpiece is not there. Due to the strong visual appeal in interiors, color schemes, Art Nuveau architecture and Belle Epoque fashions, this is mainly eye candy for dress designers and interior decorators.
  • avatar

    Hugifyn

    Amidst a sea of "transfomers" on the screen comes the lustrous and elegant film CHERI with a tremendous cast of actors and dialog that jumps off the page from the talented Christopher Hampton. Just when you thought there wouldn't be an intelligent adult fare on the summer 2009 screen, Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates light up the film with scenes that are so delicious and wicked in forming character and setting up the love story that follows. The costumes, french locations and the rich tapestry of elegance which Stephen Frears paints on the screen in CHERI is breathtaking with a touch of pathos thrown into the mix as Ms. Pfeiffer transforms her character into a heroine that will remain timeless. The last frame and the final scene of the film will long be remembered. Merci pour CHERI, Monsieur Frears.
  • avatar

    cyrexoff

    The TWO is for the set dresser, but barely. This is an astoundingly bad film in every way. The spoken words are so bad and off-key that the viewer winces. I promised to remember bad lines but there were so many my mind is overwhelmed by them. Just be assured that an uneducated valley boy or girl could have (probably did) written the text. The acting is wooden (forgive me, wood) and totally uncommitted. The good news for all involved on that level, I suppose, is that the check cleared. I must except the performance of the little unloved wifey, which was pretty good, and the two friends, a sexually ambiguous older couple, were very good. They did the job well under what must have been awful circumstances. The photography was miserable. Setting the shots was almost always wrong. The little house of Michelle Pfeiffer was very badly framed. I expected to see milk bottles at the entry, as well. Music was not a factor for me, though when I did notice it it was dreadful. To know that there are children starving and money is being used for this sort of amateurish movie making absolutely makes me livid.
  • avatar

    Arlana

    charming for actors more than for story. trip around a world like an ice cream. love and interests and humor and relations and secrets and seduction as refined art. short, a nice adaptation, provocative for the flavor of an universe who seems be part of Dangerous Liaisons, wise lesson about science to explore detail and an impressive cast doing its the best. and, sure, Michelle Pffeifer. in a role who seems be her perfect tool for translate emotions and shadows of an age and impossibility of the right option.