Director: Stephen Frears
Written by: Christopher Hampton [based on novel by Colette]
Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates
Running time: 93 min.
Release date: October 20, 2009
Film Company: Miramax
Review source: Click Communications
A good body lasts a long time. Everyone knows that.
Cheri is my least favorite work by Colette. But Colette can write wonderful stories and this film could have worked particularly with Michelle Pfeiffer back in a Dangerous Liaisons-type role. It is a period film, set before WWI in Paris, when courtesans held the power. Lea [Pfeiffer] is a well-known courtesan to the rich and famous and has been living a luxurious, richly fitting lifestyle for years. Now she’s facing a time [or AGE] when she feels that she might retire. One of her old rivals, played with sufficient bitterness and contempt by Kathy Bates, asks Lea to take her son Cheri and “teach him” about women. The 19-year-old Cheri and Lea fall in love and stay together for six years until Cheri’s mother decides it’s time for Cheri to have children and she arranges his marriage to a daughter of another courtesan. Unfortunately Lea and Cheri are obsessed with each other. Lea wants to remain young and Cheri refuses to take on grown up responsibilities.
The male narrator detracts from the female power of the courtesans, particularly Lea. Cheri is visually stunning with verdant gardens and lovely ornate costumes. Cheri is a bit too melodramatic. Pfeiffer holds her own and she’s gorgeous and regal in every scene. There’s little chemistry between Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend [Cheri]. Pfeiffer fills the screen and is too overpowering for Friend. He lacks the experience to rise to her acting talent even in this poorly scripted film.
Cheri needed a much better script and a different younger actor as Cheri to make it work.
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, The Making of Cheri [superfluous viewing as the film isn’t that good]