Cheri Review

Cheri Review


Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates, Felicity Jones
Director: Stephen Frears
Screenplay: Christopher Hampton, Collette (Novel)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rated: M
Running Time: 100 Minutes

In A Game Of Seduction, Never Fall In Love.

In 1920s Paris, the young son (Friend) of a wealthy courtesan is educated in the ways of love by a middle-aged friend of the man's mother. When he is forced to give up the six-year relationship after marrying someone else, the young man can't forget her and retreats into a fantasy world.

My Verdict:
Michelle Pfeiffer plays Lea de Lonval, an ageing courtesan who has lived a life of uncomplicated relationships until she falls for Chéri (Rupert Friend), the spoilt young son of her rival and part-time friend Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates). Normally, Lea's liaisons are finite but something about Chéri resonates and Lea finds herself emotionally involved beyond her wishes. Meanwhile, some six years later, Madame Peloux arranges a marriage for Chéri, which he reluctantly agrees to, also realising his infatuation for the much older Lea is 'the real thing' but proceeds with the marriage which will ultimately lead to tragedy.

Based on French novelist Colette's 1920 novel 'Chéri', Director Stephen Frears uses his own voice to narrate the beginning and ending and a few loose ends in between, eliminating unnecessary scenes and shortcutting the need to set some up.

Kathy Bates delivers some wonderful lines but at times they do feel forced and over-rehearsed. Rupert Friend spends most of his screen time between scorn and admiration for the woman in his life and is passable but not outstanding almost like he is treading water waiting for something better to come along. Michelle Pfeiffer has an alluring and classy quality that makes her ideal for the role and she mostly delivers but her accent is dubious and inconsistent. Pfeiffer does look gracefully elegant and gorgeous in some of her dresses and oversized hats whilst Kathy Bates dons some amusing costumes including one priceless outfit with matching bonnet.

The lavish settings and costumes are a highlight with much attention to detail but this is sometimes at the expense of attention to detail of the mood and performance of the characters. Some of the mood feels strained and pressured so that any spontaneity is missing which is unfortunate with a story that has much more to offer. The nuances of the elements of a relationship between a middle-aged woman and a man in his early 20's is open to so much emotional material as those involved deal with the implications, but none of this is apparent and its absence is sometimes too obvious. 'Chéri' is disappointingly uninspiring.

Rating : **

Christina Bruce