Belle Epoque in France. The ageing courtesan Léa (Michelle Pfeiffer) just ended her latest relationship and is considering her lifestyle: Is it really still necessary to do her job? What else would she do? It’s at that point that her best friend Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates) facilitates a meeting between Léa and Peloux’s son, Chéri (Rupert Friend). Chéri kind of ambles through life and doesn’t really know what to do with himself. His mother thinks that a relationship between him and Léa should be part of his education. And even though Lea is that much older than Chéri, things seem to work out perfectly.
Chéri surprised me. I didn’t expect much (I seem to have read only the bad reviews) but I got a delightful film with wonderful Wilde-esque dialogue, perfect performances, beautiful costumes and a great score (by Alexandre Desplat). It may not be the movie of the year, but it’s really good.
I guess I should have trusted Stephen Frears more than the reviews. I should have known that he delivers high quality movies. But anyway, as I did see the film basically because of his name on the poster, I’m not too cross with myself.
What I find interesting is that, even though the movie is called Chéri and the books (which I haven’t read) seem to be mostly about Chéri, the movie’s focus is on Léa. And rightfully so. Léa is a fascinating woman, whereas Chéri is petulant, flamboyant and a little hard to stand.
Michelle Pfeiffer gave a wonderful performance and next to her, Kathy Bates and Rupert Friend almost disappear. But that doesn’t keep them from doing an awesome job themselves.
The dialogue was wonderful – and I really want to read the books now. Full of one-liners and dry wit, like so:
Léa: What do you expect me to do, go and pine away in Normandy? Stop dyeing my hair? Is that what you want?
Léa: You’re not the first young man I’ve said goodbye to.
Cheri: Yes, I know, but what I thought might be appropriate is if I were the last.
Summarising, definitely a movie you should watch.
[Btw: Is anybody else as irritated as I am by how much Rupert Friend looks like Orlando Bloom?]