Written by Pollo Misterioso
Period pieces are charming because they create a world that the audience is unfamiliar to. The costumes and the customs that are so foreign to our time become a wonderful setting that is based in reality. The film Cheri is a period film set in the 1900s that desperately tries to be compelling but fails to capture the basic drama between the characters while trying too hard.
Cheri is based on the novel of the same title by French author, Colette. She is most known for her novel Gigi but this one was written earlier, which is about a relationship of a man, Cheri, and an older woman Lea de Lonval who are separated by an arranged marriage.
Michelle Pfeiffer plays Lea, a famous courtesan that is worried about her age and what she will do because of it. Cheri (Rupert Friend) is a rambunctious young man that knows nothing of women or what he wants. His mother, Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates), sets his up with Lea so that she can take care of him. They live together for six years, until he is arranged to marry a fellow courtesan’s daughter for a large amount of money. When Lea and Cheri separate, they realize how much they truly loved one another, but unfortunately for them, they cannot be together.
The film is supposed to capture the subtleties of relationships and the fear of fading youth. But both of the lead characters are written so poorly that their relationship seems fake and desperate. Cheri is annoying and without any likable qualities, he is always complaining and unjustly rude—perhaps he is to seem young and frivolous. Even when he confesses a deeper love for Lea, it is simulated and novice. On the other hand, Pfeiffer gives a nice ferocity to Lea, making her more than just a beautiful woman, but someone that is commanding. Unfortunately, her character is not the main focus of the film, leaving her to seem very two-dimensional.