Cheri

2009-11-30 13:19
 
Cheri

What it's about:


Set in Paris in the years before World War I, Chéri paints a picture of the romance between young Chéri (Rupert Friend) and retired courtesan Léa (Michelle Pfeiffer). Chéri’s mother (Kathy Bates), a rival of Léa, plots to separate the pair by arranging a marriage between her son and Edmée (Felicity Jones).

What we thought:

Chéri explores one of womankind’s biggest fears: being abandoned or rejected by the man you love because you’re older, and he’s younger. It’s about how we can’t help dreaming, and can’t help feeling, even when our dreams will never come true, and we know this.

Of course, it promises all the indulgence and intrigue a good period drama should. You know what I mean - awesome dresses, sulkily beautiful spoilt boy-men, jealousy, and sexual seduction, and conflict with society’s conservative norms. It explores the tension between our human pride, and the inevitable shame and humiliation that being human and vulnerable brings when denial of our true feelings becomes impossible.

The movie promises a lot, but a lot of people will hate the way it’s styled. It’s deliberately "stagey" in approach, with heavy-handed treatment of humorous moments and not very much real acting from Kathy Bates, who seems constantly aware that she’s sharing the stage with one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and plays the part of the nouveau-riche overweight former party-girl almost self-consciously. Speaking of which, it’s hard not to spend much of the movie very aware that you’re watching Michelle Pfeiffer. The Michelle Pfeiffer. It’s like she’s become too famous to be a real actor. Either that, or she just isn’t doing her job in this role.

Rupert Friend (who played Prince Albert in The Young Victoria) is pretty convincing as the young man Chéri, and disappears into the role like a real actor should.  But there’s little chemistry between them (and much more real chemistry between Chéri and his young wife Rose, played by Frances Tomelty), and instead of being cleverly oddball, the film just comes across as a bit amateur, and not nearly stylish enough to do justice to Colette’s French novel, on which it is based.  In particular, the power of Pfeiffer’s presence is so strong that one of the book’s important themes – the reversal of the gaze that usually objectifies women –  isn’t explored in the end.

To be fair to the filmmakers, Ster Kinekor messed up the screening really badly. The soundtrack music seemed to be playing at a different speed to the rest of the movie. Something was causing a loud buzzing noise throughout the movie, which nearly drove everyone insane. It’s pretty hard to judge a dramedy like this (or suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself in a 19th century world) when you’re constantly being reminded that some people still live in a past free of pesky modern technology – or apparently would prefer to.


The son of a courtesan retreats into a fantasy world after being forced to end his relationship with the older woman who educated him in the ways of love.

mandi 2009/12/01 6:31 AM
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I love this film!
mandi 2009/12/01 6:41 AM
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I love this film sooo much!
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