Chéri – Review

Worth seeing: if you don't mind obvious, sign-posted drama involving emotionally cold characters, who engender little sympathy
Director:Stephen Frears
Featuring:Kathy Bates, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Anita Pallenberg, Bette Bourne, Felicity Jones, Frances Tomelty, Harriet Walter, Iben Hjejle
Length:92 minutes
Country:Germany, UK, US
Released:8th May 2009


It’s 1920s Paris and Lea de Lonval (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a retired courtesan, spending her romance-less days with ladies who lunch – including Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates).

Madame Peloux moans about how her teenaged son Chéri (Rupert Friend) is wasting his life away.

Lea hasn’t seen him for years – but when she casts her eyes on the strapping young man, a few moments together and she’s snatching from her best friend’s cradle.
A passionate – and public – affair begins between the pair that suits them both for their own reasons.

She’s happy to be seen about with this hunk at her side and she’s certainly enjoying how young it makes her feel.

Others around her aren’t sure the relationship is such a good idea – although she assures them that it’s just a bit of short-term fun – in the kind of way you try to assure yourself of something you know, or hope, not to be true.

But she’s forced to eat her words when Madame Peloux finds an eligible young heiress for her son to settle down with.


Coming from the writer (Christopher Hampton) and director (Stephen Frears) of Dangerous Liaisons, you’d expect this romantic drama to be sharper — more cutting — but it’s sadly slight.

Michelle Pfeiffer looks stunning for her fifty one years and any young man would be honoured to get close to her.

But the characters are as thinly drawn as they are portrayed and there are very few people who come out of this with any sympathy at all.

Everyone is emotionally cold and selfish – the lavish costumes have far more personality than any of the people.

The drama is obvious, the plot-points clearly signposted, the romance lacks passion and the dialogue is leaden and lacking in the spark the film’s provenance might promise.