It is turn of the century in Belle Epoque
Paris and a scandalous romp is underfoot. The sensational
tale begins as the ravishing Léa (Michelle Pfeiffer)
contemplates retirement from her renowned stature as Paris’s
most envied seductress to the rich and famous. Her plans are
cut short when she is approached by a former courtesan and
arch rival, the barb-throwing gossip Charlotte Peloux (Kathy
Bates), who encourages Léa to teach
her disaffected 19 year-old son — a bon vivant nicknamed
“Chéri” (Rupert Friend) -- a thing or two about women. The
resulting escapades involve power struggles over sex,
money, age and society – and unexpectedly, love itself — as
a boy who refuses to grow up collides with a woman who
realizes she cannot stay young forever. Director
Stephen Frears (“The Queen”) and screenwriter Christopher
reunite (“Dangerous Liaisons”) to playfully bring Colette’s
CHERI, to the screen.
REVIEW: Lea de Lonval: I'm probably making a fool of myself... but then again, why not? Life is short!
Love has that affect on people. It turns them into fools. I personally don’t mind being that kind of fool if it’s because of love. But for Lea de Lonval, a professional courtesan at the point of retirement, love does not exist in her dictionary. Her profession has trained her to be able to detach and remain independent and strong. Not bad for a woman around the turn of the century. One of the more appealing aspects of this film is its setting, turn of the century Paris. The scenery was impeccable, the costumes were magnificent, the hairdos were timely, and the sets and props were very appropriate. This movie takes you to another place and time, no doubt. The cast is not too shabby either with Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates and Rupert Friend as your primary characters. Aging is inevitable and this movie explores that fact and how it relates to relationships. Aging is also creeping up on Michelle but she still remains beautiful and very sexy. She was perfectly cast for this role. Kathy at first seemed a little out of place for this story, but with her talent she blends in well after a while and you forget the awkwardness. Rupert was quite the young Frenchman and quite self centered and spoiled. He played the title role very well. Overall, the performances for these three started out a little slow and weak but they quickly picked up as the movie progressed.
Sex and more sex is one of the themes of this picture as you would imagine given the characters and storyline. The problem is that Lea breaks the cardinal rule as love somehow seeps into her latest adventure and now she’s in unfamiliar territory. As a result, other problems emerge which present other themes of the movie: aging and relationships, forbidden, undesired, and unreciprocated relationships. Oh Edmee (Felicity Jones), that poor, poor girl, the victim of an arranged marriage to a reluctant spouse. Each of the characters will draw some form of sympathy from the viewer for each of them has their own set of issues. Part of the liveliness of the characters is the film’s sharp script. There is sarcasm, lies, tantrums, hypocrisy, you name it. Put it all together and it adds to the entertainment value of the movie. Similar to the performances, the script starts out a little slow but picks up speed as time goes on. The story itself seems pretty modern for a 100 year old setting but that also adds to the entertainment value. But don’t let that fool you because it’s still a chick flick with a common plot with slight twists. The cinematography is nicely done with every detail covered. In summary, the movie is a decent escape but you won’t leave the theater in awe; partly because of the abruptness of the ending. If you see the movie, you’ll know what I mean. Director Stephen Frears has been directing for decades and has quite a collection under his belt. It should not have surprised me that he directed one of my favorites, Dangerous Liaisons (which also happened to have starred Michelle Pfeiffer). He hasn’t lost his touch as far as making a quality period piece.
Review By Cine Marcos
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