Monday, August 10, 2009


Tonight I saw Cheri, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend.

Prostitution never looked so good.

Lea (Pfeiffer) is an escort-to-the-stars in turn-of-the-century France. Her friend Charlotte (Kathy Bates) is past her prime and concerned more with the upbringing of her teenage son Chéri (Friend) than with establishing more clients. The only women they mingle with are those in their shared profession and competition seems absent from their tangles, as there are plenty of men to go around.

But Lea only wants one man—or boy, really. She wants Chéri, who has seduced her into letting him stay at her Normandy estate for a greedy length of time. She shows him the proper way around a bedroom, buys him lavish gifts, feeds him, clothes him, and probably bathes him. She is his lover, but she is also his surrogate mother.

When his real mother returns to collect him and marry him off to another teenager, Lea is devastated but retains her dignity. As the new young couple heads to Italy for a honeymoon, Lea escapes to a new home and leaves no forwarding address.

Both parties are miserable apart—Chéri's marriage, though faithful, is completely loveless, and Lea seems to take on another lover only to pass the time.

When they finally realize they can't happily live apart, it may be too late to do anything about it. Oh, the perils of true love.

As a fan of the book, I knew what the outcome would be and I dare say the film is much lighter and funnier than the original text. The lead couple is convincing and well-matched with Pfeiffer's sharp, mature features directly contrasting the feminine curves of Friend's. But the real scene-stealer is the always-phenomenal Kathy Bates, who lights up the screen for better or for worse with her spunky energy.

To break this film down to one word, I'd call it a "romp."

And a pleasurable one, for what it's worth.


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