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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Michelle Pfeiffer
Kathy Bates
Rupert Friend.
Directors
Stephen Frears.
Screenwriters
Christopher Hampton.
Running Time
100 minutes

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Cheri
Dangerous Liaisons 2: Satin Boogaloo


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Plot
Paris, the 1920s. Retired courtesan Léa (Pfeiffer) begins an affair with Chéri (Friend), the son of another courtesan, Madame Peloux (Bates). When Peloux arranges Chéri’s marriage, he and Léa feign indifference about their parting of ways — but their true feelings are another matter.


Review
Cheri
Scheming rich French women, sex scandals, Michelle Pfeiffer… There’s so much about period flick Chéri that promises delicious comparisons with 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons. It even comes from the same director (Stephen Frears) and screenwriter (Christopher Hampton, who’s adapted the 1920 novel by Colette).

But this time, Pfeiffer’s character isn’t the wronged innocent. Léa is a middle-aged courtesan who’s made enough money to give her friend’s handsome young son a six-year freebie. And she pays for all his Champagne. Yes, the life of a 1920s Parisian looks pretty good in this drama — Léa even has servants to dress her and run her a bath in her huge Art Nouveau house.

Swishing around her des res, Pfeiffer is elegance personified, and as arresting as she was in Dangerous Liaisons. She also has chemistry with Rupert Friend, who plays her spoiled, selfish lover, Chéri, with ease. Their dalliance is initially entertaining, and serves to expose the amusing contradictions of Chéri’s competitive mother, Madame Peloux (an enjoyable Kathy Bates).

While anxious for her philandering son to be kept in check, Peloux can’t help but feel jealous of his time with Léa — it seems the courtesans’ relationship is more about rivalry than friendship. And so the lovers must be separated by marriage to virginal young Edmee (an underused Felicity Jones).

All this is decorative and occasionally witty, but the characters struggle to engage. Chéri never reveals any depth beyond his hedonistic surface, and while Léa shows vulnerability in a few key scenes, it’s hard to believe the couple are in love. A narration from Frears himself strives to emphasise their bond, but the film fails to demonstrate it, shifting through six years of their lives as if impatient for the conclusion.

As the May-December coupling begins to hit the rocks, interesting issues about relationships, etiquette, age and gender differences are raised. But they’re hardly explored. This keeps the distance of an impartial observer with no affection for its subjects. Wavering between mild-mannered sex-romp and calculated melodrama, Cheri ultimately fails to deliver the one thing period audiences crave most: romance.


Verdict
This glimpse into a decadent era has its charms, but they’re mostly visual. While Pfeiffer and Friend perform well, the script is tonally confused and lacks edge.


Reviewed by Anna Smith

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Cheri
Empire Star Rating

Costume Drama Fails The Mark.

I saw this for a change from the usual movies I have seen lately. Yes, the costumes and the settings are beautiful to look at. Michelle Pfeiffer was very good in her role as Lea, you believe her character very quickly and you feel for her when she and her lover are separted. The problem is that Rupert Friend was the wrong kind of man to woo her and make her miss him so, he looks like a woman and his posh accent was getting on my nerves. The chemisty between the two was hardly there, where was th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 13:08, 28 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Just a guess...

i, Frears, 2009 7"] ] ed Chéri for my English degree. upposed to study it, but never got round to reading it and saved myself a few lectures. So I went into this aware of the existence of the book, but not aware of its contents. Michelle Pfeiffer looks sublime here, a fine example of ageing gracefully. And, if you discount everything written below, it's not a bad film at all... Where to start...? Well, the beginning then. The narration is banal and sounds more bored that Harriso... More

Posted by homersimpson_esq at 19:11, 25 May 2009 | Report This Post


Just a guess...

I admit not seeing this. If you have, is my guess accurate? I guess it's miserable, angst-ridden and depressing with lovely frocks. I just wondered if my decision to avoid it like the plague is justified... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Voice of Fate at 07:55, 05 May 2009 | Report This Post


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