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Promotional film poster
Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Bill Kenwright
Thom Mount
Written by Novel:
Christopher Hampton
Narrated by Stephen Frears
Starring Michelle Pfeiffer
Rupert Friend
Kathy Bates
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Darius Khondji
Editing by Lucia Zucchetti
Studio UK Film Council
Distributed by Miramax Films (USA)
Pathé (UK)
Release date(s) Germany:
10 February 2009
United Kingdom:
8 May 2009
United States:
26 June 2009 (limited)
Running time 92 min.
Country France
United Kingdom
Language English
Gross revenue $8,820,292 [1]

Cheri is a 2009 French/British/German drama film directed by Stephen Frears. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend, it is an adaptation of the novel by French author Colette. The film premiered at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival.[2]



Set in 1900s Belle Époque Paris, Cheri tells the story of the end of a six-year affair between an aging retired courtesan, Léa, and a flamboyant young man, Fred, nicknamed "Chéri" ("Dear"). Turning stereotypes upside-down, it is Chéri who wears silk pyjamas and Léa's pearls, and who is the object of gaze. The two believe their relationship is casual until they are separated by Chéri's marriage, at which point they realize they are in love. They spend a miserable nine months apart, at which point Chéri appears at Léa's home. They spend the night together and Léa begins to plan their new life together. However, when she learns that Chéri had returned for the moral strength to be a husband, she releases him to return home. The final scene shows Chéri leaving Léa's home to walk down the street towards his home. Léa returns to her vanity table to gaze at herself in the mirror. The narrator cuts in that after many years Chéri will realize that Léa was the only woman he could ever love, but she was too old for him. Chéri will kill himself after this realization.



Chéri received a nomination for the Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear award.[4]

The movie got mixed reviews: The Times of London reviewed the film favorably, describing Hampton's screenplay as a "steady flow of dry quips and acerbic one-liners" and Pfeiffer's performance as "magnetic and subtle, her worldly nonchalance a mask for vulnerability and heartache."[5]

Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that it was "fascinating to observe how Pfeiffer controls her face and voice during times of painful hurt."[6]

Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times praised the "wordless scenes that catch Léa unawares, with the camera alone seeing the despair and regret that she hides from the world. It's the kind of refined, delicate acting Pfeiffer does so well, and it's a further reminder of how much we've missed her since she's been away."[7]

At Rotten Tomatoes it has a 54% or 'Rotten' rating, with "Cream of the Crop" critics giving it a 50% rating. Much of the criticism centers on its weak script and poorly executed romance scenes. [8]

At Metacritic, it received "generally favorable reviews" based on 27 critic reviews. [9]


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