Cheri Review: The Milf Strikes Back

May 5, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

CHERI: On General Release from Friday 8th May 2009

Throughout our lives we encounter many things that make us question the existence of God. Needless death and suffering, the impending spread of Pig Flu and flying ants to name just a few.

Yet nothing comes close to the unfair relegation of a one time screen Goddess to ‘character actor’ while her craggy-faced male contemporaries are free to attempt the ‘no pants dance’ with a starlet one quarter their age.

Sure, Jack Nicholson may have been an untouchable lothario in his day, but he’s more than likely incontinent now and yet Hollywood wouldn’t bat an eyelid if his next film romantically paired him with Miley Cyrus in a romcom set in an animal sanctuary.

In this light, it’s all the more refreshing to see uber-milf Michelle Pfeiffer take a stand, and a role that demonstrates we’ve still an awful lot to learn from experienced women.

It seems like just yesterday she poured herself into a skin-tight PVC catsuit and back-flipped her way into a thousand adolescent fantasies, but in Stephen Frears’ latest period drama Pfeiffer plays Lea de Lonval, an older woman nearing the end of an illustrious career as one of France’s premier courtesans.

Despite suggesting that this is something of a swansong for Pfeiffer, who at 52 will no doubt soon be offered a cameo as Catwoman’s mother, she still retains the ability to drop jaws (and pants) at twenty paces.

Cheri is quite ambitious, not least because it is an adaptation of Colette’s 1920s novel. Because those turn-of-the-century French novelists could turn the pleasant sensation of a good sneeze into a ten page discussion of moral determinism, there’s a hell of a lot of action to cram into 90 odd minutes of film. However, I found the voiceover which relates much of this information to be a bit distracting, especially when it steams in at the end with a shocking revelation which would have been better established through dialogue.

According to Mr Annoying Voiceover, Lea de Lonval was one of France’s most of famous prostitutes who in her day ‘saw to’ the movers and shakers of turn-of-the-century Europe. Nearing the end of her career as a ‘pro’, Lea has an affair with the 19-year-old Cheri (Rupert Friend), the son of her friend and former call-girl, Madame Charlotte Peloux (Cathy Bates). Before you know it this harmless bit of slap and tickle has turned into a six year love affair from which neither will ever fully recover.

Set in ‘La Belle Epoch’ Cheri looks amazing and does very well to evoke the decadence of the period. Pfeiffer and Friend give solid performances and a rousing soundtrack adds to the weight of the material. But it’s undoubtedly Michelle Pfeiffer’s flawless beauty and ageless sex appeal that will have you surreptitiously typing her name into your next Google search.


Jack McKay

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