Stephen Frears… makes thoroughly professional and immensely entertaining stories that pay particular attention to characters, their flaws, emotions and deepest desires. In Cheri
, he has another dandy. The chemistry between Pfeiffer and Friend is positively combustible. One feels the hunger in each, the rising physical passion and emotional vulnerability in two people who, if asked, would scorn love as a human weakness.
Darius Khondji’s mood-catching cinematography, Consolata Boyle’s eye-catching costumes and Alan MacDonald’s gorgeous sets are all entertainment in themselves. But the greatest contribution comes from composer Alexandre Desplat whose nostalgic, romantic, melancholy score evokes the period perfectly.
- Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
Filled with luxurious gowns and lush grounds, Stephen Frears's Colette adaptation depicts an affair too perfect to last. Parisian courtesan Lea de Lonval (Michelle Pfeiffer) retains her good looks and has invested her earnings wisely, so her colleague, Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates), persuades Lea to celebrate the inception of her retirement by teaching the Madame’s self-centered son, Chéri (Rupert Friend, recalling T.Rex's tousle-haired Marc Bolan), how to treat a lady. Lea, who has known Chéri his entire life, has genuine affection for the unformed lad, although, as she quips, "I can't criticize his character, mainly because he doesn't seem to have one." To her surprise, their weekend in Normandy turns into a six-year-relationship. Then, Madame Peloux announces that she has found an appropriate 18-year-old bride for her now-reformed 25-year-old boy. Afraid to admit the depth of their feelings for each other, the duo grudgingly goes along with the plan since Belle Époque society demands that a proper gentleman marry a proper lady, and Lea realizes that matrimony to a man half her age isn't an option. But real love--even the co-dependent kind--can't be banished quite so easily as a bad habit. Frears and Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton, adapting Chéri
and The Last of Chéri
, previously collaborated with Pfeiffer on Dangerous Liaisons
, but their reunion is a comparatively somber affair that comes recommended more for fans of the actress, who gives the role her all, than for fans of the filmmaker, whose direction feels perfunctory, particularly during the blink-and-you'll-miss-it epilogue. --Kathleen C. Fennessy