Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Chéri (2009)

Directed by Stephen Frears
Written by Christopher Hampton, based on Colette's novels
Cast Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates

Reviewed by

Michelle Pfeiffer and Stephen Frears worked together in 1988, doing the romantic 3-Oscar-winning drama Dangerous Liaisons, which gained the first nomination also to Pfeiffer. Three years ago Frears made The Queen that gathered success around and brought its leading lady Helen Mirren an Oscar.

With Chéri Frears and Pfeiffer travel back to France and to the time before the World Wars, the time known as Belle Epoque, when courtisans were a visible part of the society. The most successful courtisans lived luxurious lives in beautiful houses, surrounded by beautiful dresses, jewelry and their own staff. The story is based on novels by Colette.

Pfeiffer is Lea, a luxury courtisan who is aging and planning on retiring. She has experienced all kinds of love, except the true love. One day when visiting her old colleague Madame Peloux, played by brilliant Kathy Bates, she is tempted to kiss Madame's 19-year-old son Fred, nick named Chéri (Rupert Friend). Unexpectedly the kiss turns their lives upside down and they find themselves living together for many years.

When Madame Peloux informs that she has arranged a good marriage with a wealthy young girl Edmee (Felicity Jones) for her son, both Lea's and Chéri's dreams come tumbling down and they realise their affection is something deeper than just lust and friendship.

Wonderful Pfeiffer is the heart of this movie. As an aging beauty, insecure and troubled at the inevitable fate of her body slowly losing its youth and glamour, Pfeiffer does a convincing job. Also as a woman so involved in all sort of love affairs in her life, finally finding true love and losing it to a younger woman she is a fragile work of art.

Rupert Friend as the young courtisan's son is at ease in a role many others might have been afraid of performing. He is a good looking angel face with a gorgerous body when naked, and considering he's working with such a big name as Pfeiffer, he pulls his role as her lover professionally.

Visually stunning surroundings, beautifully framed pictures give the drama an extra essense. Frears is at best in directing movies of interesting personas - Chéri shows this the similar way as The Queen did.

Final verdict: Beautifully shot Belle Epoque drama of the love affair of an older woman and a younger man. Strong and convincing characters played by brilliant actors, especially the lovely Michelle Pfeiffer. Watch for next year's Oscar nominations and especially costume design category.

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