Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I saw an independent film tonight which really intrigued me. An old theatre near me plays really cheap movies, and I was interested in the title because Michelle Pfeiffer is in it. As an actress, she blows me away. She's absolutely phenomenal. And I was right again; in this movie, she was absolutely incredible.
Cheri is a movie that was once a novel. It is a European film that debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival. I can see why it wasn't that big in the United States, but I still do think it is worth repeating.
Cheri takes place in France and focuses on an old courtesan named Lea. Basically, Lea got rich by courting wealthy men who payed her to sleep with them for months or years. Lea is getting old, but she takes on one more prospect, a young man (18) who she knew when he was young named Fred. When he was young, Fred called her Nunu and she called him Cheri. They go by these nicknames throughout the movie.
Lea and Cheri meet up when he is eighteen and wild where he wants to run away with her. Lea takes it upon herself to court him and try to teach him how to be a man so he can be a good suitor. They have a lavish time together for six years. Then, Cheri's mother, played by Kathy Bates, fixes an arranged marriage. Lea and Cheri are forced to end their affair.
Cheri thinks he can just let it go, so he tries to marry this tight young woman. Lea takes it hard and runs away to stage that she is courting a new man. What Cheri didn't plan on was going mad with rage and envy. He comes home angry and is crazed as he waits for Lea to return. He stays in a hotel for weeks waiting for her. Cheri does take a new man but leaves him to return home when he hears that Cheri has separated from his wife.
Upon her return, Cheri gets back together with his wife because he thinks he can now rest since he knows that Lea is back in town. Unfortunately, he can't keep himself away for long. The movie ends on a last dramatic scene between the two when they make love and wake up in the morning. Lea decides that they will run off together and be in secrecy from now on. Cheri was planning on having a dual love life. They have this really in-depth discussion where Cheri reverts to being like his mother and he yells at her for being like her. He always loved her for being nice and humble and honest. So, Cheri reverts back to herself and tells Cheri what he needs to hear: he needs to forget her and be a man to his new family even though she deprived him of that in their relationship.
Cheri actually leaves, but a narrator discusses that Cheri went off to war and eventually shot himself because he could never love anyone else besides Lea. Lea did look very old in the end which was sad because I think Cheri started to notice it. It was such a sad relationship because they could never really love each other for very long. They lived without each other, still with a strong love, but couldn't have it because it wasn't acceptable. That kills me.
I can't believe the romantic taboos that were present back then. Everything had to be so clean-cut--that would never fly today. I'm happy that we have moved on to more open romantic relationships so people can be happy with who they love. They don't have to endure pain and be in relationships they don't want to be in. Some people still marry for show, but it's not the only option anymore. It's a great thing.
One thing that I did find interesting in Cheri was the gender role reversal. In their relationship, Lea wore the pants. She made phone calls and paid for them. She was the boss. She was the controller and the power force. She had a hold over him, and I think he liked that. Cheri was very flamboyant and beautiful. He dressed wonderfully and had gorgeous hair. He liked wearing her pearls and always curled up on him like a little boy. It's weird the way it worked out.
Even though the movie is tragic, it has some great themes and it was very entertaining. I really didn't know what to expect, but this was good. I liked being brought back to the early 1900s in Europe--it was gorgeous. Such a simple life. But it was also cool to see how courtesans were actually respected and made such a good life for themselves with the money they earned. It's so much different now!
Michelle Pfeiffer is looking old, but she is still so stunningly gorgeous. She is one of those women who have such natural beauty, and she still looks beautiful today. She was perfect for this role, and her acting was impeccable. She drew me in and helped me appreciate the film. I love the man who played Cheri too. I've never seen him, but he is so handsome. He was perfect for the part.
Their nicknames are perfect for each other too. Nunu is so childish, which still shows Fred's boyishness that he never lets go of. Cheri is so feminine, connecting back to the gender role swap. It's a clever addition to the story. It's a good story and a great indie film.
But anyway, what do we think of Cheri?