Cheri (M)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner7/05/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Enjoyable, sharply written drama with terrific central performances from Pfeiffer and Friend.

What's it all about?
Director Stephen Frears reunites with Dangerous Liaisons scriptwriter Christopher Hampton and star Michelle Pfeiffer for Cheri, based on the 1920s novels by Colette. Set in 1900s Paris, the film stars Pfeiffer as Lea de Lonval, a high-class courtesan who knows her best days are behind her.

When Lea's old friend and rival Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates) asks her to educate her immature 19 year-old son Cheri (Rupert Friend) in the ways of love, the pair begin an affair that lasts for six years, with each one hiding the depths of their true feelings for each other. When Madame Peloux announces that she's arranged a marriage between Cheri and Edmee (Felicity Jones), the affair comes to an abrupt end, but can either of them really be happy with anyone else?

The Good
Michelle Pfeiffer is terrific as Lea, perfectly conveying a mixture of pride and heartbreaking vulnerability. Rupert Friend is equally good, both as the shallow, confused youth and the more emotionally mature man he grows into, while there's strong support from the ever-reliable Kathy Bates and from rising star Felicity Jones, who works wonders with her underwritten part as Edmee.

The film is also beautifully shot throughout, courtesy of acclaimed cinematographer Darius Khondji, while the production design is both subtle and evocative. Similarly, there's an undoubted extra layer of frisson added by memories of Pfeiffer in Dangerous Liaisons; they even cheekily use a publicity shot from the film as a photo of the young Lea.

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is that the supporting characters are horribly underwritten (for example, Toby Kebbell appears in a couple of scenes as Lea's servant and then promptly disappears), while the climax is slightly disappointing and lacks the emotional power of the rest of the film.

Worth seeing?
That said, Cheri remains a sharply written, emotionally engaging drama with terrific performances from Pfeiffer and Friend. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 25/04/2019 10:54

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