Walter, 24, is a wrestler, competing for a spot on the national team when he learns of his sister's brutal death. He comes home to help his mother; he works out, takes a dead-end job, and ... See full summary »
18-year old Christian has just graduated from high school. At his summer job he is seduced by the 36-year old single mother Sanne. Soon he is drawn into a world of sensuality and his ... See full summary »
Marie Louise Wille,
Helle Merete Sørensen
During France's belle époque before World War I, elegant cars, mansions, and servants defined the lives of les grandes horizontals, the courtesans of kings and millionaires. One of the most successful, Lea de Lonval, is approaching a certain age when an older associate, Charlotte Peloux, asks Lea to take on her 19 year old son, whom Lea has called Chéri since he was a child. They become lovers and, to their surprise, the relationship lasts six years. When it ends abruptly with a marriage his mother arranges to the daughter of another courtesan, Lea finds herself lonely. Has she fallen in love? If so, do she -- and Chéri - have any choices?Written by
When the project was in development during the 1990s, Jessica Lange planned to star as Léa de Lonval. See more »
In the closing credits, 'thanks' are given to France's national railway, the Societe National Chemin de Fer, known as the "SNCF". However the credits have the letters out of sequence, calling it the "SCNF". See more »
We may think ourselves familiar in this day and age with the notion that whores of every description can very easily achieve fame and fortune. But towards the end of the 19th century, there what came to be known in France as the "Belle Epoque", a select group of courtesans, who became for a short period, the most celebrated and powerful women in the long history of prostitution.
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After you get over how beautiful the lighting makes 51 year old Michelle Pfeiffer playing her age and how old it makes 28 year old Rupert Friend playing 19, there's not much else to love about Cheri. Or maybe you can love the sumptuous 19th century Paris estates, cars, and gowns of the idle rich, whose lives will morph into something less glamorous as the Belle Epoque slides into WWI.
Colette's two novels about Chéri (Friend) the son of wealthy courtesan Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates), are not just about an indolent but beautiful rich slacker; they also follow the good fortune of Lea de Lonval (Pfeiffer), an unusually beautiful and profitable courtesan who has shrewdly prepared herself for financial comfort but forget the cardinal rule of prostitutes: Don't fall in love.
After six years of lover's paradise, Chéri and Lea part as the takes an arranged bride. And that's all there is, folks, as the film moves from a robust ramble about the various courtesans to a dreary hour of Twilight-like longing between this old-fashioned Harold and Maude. Director Steven Frears, who has had a fair share of intriguing films and characters, just lets the camera make love to Pfeiffer and Friend without fleshing out the characters to let is know what is so lovable to be longing for so long. Writer Christopher Hampton with Dangerous Liaisons and Atonement on his resume can't seem to muster a memorable line or develop his characters from flat clichés into round characters.
I do concede that Kathy Bates delivering this line saved the film for the moment: "Don't you find that when the skin is a little less firm, it holds perfume so much better?" Said to Michelle Pfeiffer, these lines give Bates bite of the year honors and a brief respite from spare, meaningless dialogue.
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