cheribannerSo Lea de Lonval is a courtesan heading towards the end of her career, as it were, when she decides (or is possibly manipulated into) taking on the son of a friend and former colleague to bring him up to scratch (as it were again – this is all very delicate you know). Fred is 19 and known as Cheri; he’s beautiful, sullen, superficial and you know that it’s all going to end badly. Cheri has to marry, and the change in their circumstances exposes how they really feel about each other…

What I loved about the movie = it looks abosultely gorgeous, turn-of-the-last-century France so frocks and shoes and jewellery and hair and bitchiness and witticisms – just my cup of tea; Michelle Pfeiffer is one of my favourite actresses; I’ve never really seen the attraction of Rupert Friend before but on this showing I’m beginning to see what I might have been missing; the sex scenes are very tasteful.

What I didn’t like about the movie = well, I’m not sure how to describe it, and I think it’s as much to do with Colette as the film, but it has a lot of surface glamour and wit but I wasn’t wholly moved by the tragic elements. I wasn’t entirely sold on the narration either, but again that grew on me. But you know, it’s so sumptuously lovely that I’ll probably buy the DVD.

Rating stuff = 15 – contains moderate sex and sex references (it’s about a courtesan for goodness sake, of course it does)

Tissue count = none , but there should have been, this is a tragic love story after all

Safety cushion = not necessary

I was lucky enough to see this at the BFI South Bank in London, and the film was followed by a brief but very entertaining q&a session with Stephen Frears (director) and Christopher Hampton (screenwriter). The issue of the narration was tackled, and Frears seemed himself to feel that it might have been better if delivered by a woman.

I know this review may seem a bit like damning with faint praise but this was a lovely costume drama and I will be watching it again.

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