Director Stephen Frears and actor Michelle Pfeiffer worked together and
produce the gorgeous, elegant and seductive Dangerous Liaisons of
1988. Unfortunately, the fruit of their 2009 effort is anything but.
Based on the novel by Colette, who wrote about the belle époque which
WWI obliterated for good, Chérie is set in the heady, hazy Paris
outside of ‘polite society’ but immersed in semi-fantastical opulence.
Pfeiffer is Lea de Lonval, courtesan to kings and tsars whose use-by
date is written all over her increasingly-scrutinised face. Her lifelong
friend and perpetual rival Madame Peloux (a
larger-than-life-but-not-caricature Kathy Bates) more or less hands over
her eye-pleasing son Chéri (Rupert Friend) for some birds-n-bees
education but it turns into a five year stint of inter-generational
interesting to see a story of love, obsession and power exchange about
the older woman’s objectification of a young man written by a woman—the
novel, at any rate. The screenplay was written by a man (Christopher
Hampton, also of Dangerous Liaisons fame) and the director is a
man too, however.
period locations, costumes and décor are lively, sumptuous and
successful. The performances are good and there are even sex scenes.
Somehow though, the whole thing just doesn’t sparkle. You sit there and
think to yourself what am I doing here? What’s going on? Why should I
care about these people? There’s no dramatic tension and you’re not
forced or even encouraged to invest in any attachment to any of the
Lonval’s long life has been rich but void of love. By the time she opens
up to the real thing, she is too old and Chérie remains too young. To
stretch this moral out to 90 minutes becomes an endurance test. If I
walked away with anything, it’s that two people who should be together
should not be kept apart because others as well as them will suffer.
sound and video come up really well. The special features include a 9
min making of, the trailer, a generous image gallery and two deleted
scenes, one of which is quite intriguing.
can only recommend to hardcore period romance nerds or fans of one or
more of the people in front of or behind the lens. I really wish I’d had
the insight of someone who’s read the book but I won’t be dashing to the