We See Chick Flicks: “Chéri”
Opens Fri. June 26th
Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates and Rupert Friend
I’m fairly pop culture literate, working for The Frisky and all, but I hadn’t heard a single thing about the movie, “Chéri,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer, until I was invited to a screening.
After I saw the flick, about a aging prostitute in the early 1900s who is in love with a younger man, I wondered if maybe the lack of promotion for “Chéri” might have something to do with the subject matter: Historical Drama and Older Woman Having Sex. Not a robot or an explosion — summer movie staples — to be found! The Lowdown: Michelle Pfeiffer stars as Lea, a beloved courtesan living during the French Belle Epoque. She’s as rich as Louis the XIV, happily uncoupled and considering retirement from the world’s oldest profession, as she’s getting to be over-the-hill in prostitute years.
Early on in the film, Lea is hanging out with one of her other prostitute friends (they can only really socialize with each other, as you can imagine), who is complaining about the sloth and louche-ness of her 19-year-old son. He, incidentally, is a total hottie.
Of course, Lea and young Fred, whom she calls “Chéri” (played by Rupert Friend), begin carrying on with each other. And though Lea teases him about his age and makes cynical comments to his mother (played by Kathy Bates) about what a scoundrel he is, it’s clear that the two have fallen deeply in love.
Six years in, though, Chéri’s mum is pressuring her now 25-year-old son to end his relationship with Lea, marry a woman who is not of ill repute and produce some grandchildren. Lea, of course, couldn’t have children at this point if she even wanted to sacrifice her decadent lifestyle to have any. And the choices Chéri is forced to make—older woman/younger woman, “inappropriate” love marriage/appropriate arranged marriage, children/no children—are utterly fascinating.
I won’t ruin the ending, though, I will say there are many twists and turns and none of them are what you might expect!
The Verdict: Unfortunately, Rupert Friend is an actor of the Scarlett Johannson persuasion: he’s a painfully bad actor to watch onscreen, but easy on the eyes. Nevertheless, this is a perfect film to see with girlfriends, your mother, or even your guy. Between the thoughtful plot and the fact both Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend spend much of the movie half-naked, there’s some eye candy for everyone to enjoy.