What You Need To Know:
Based on two novels by scandalous French writer Colette, this movie is often confusing. Viewers have to read between the lines and insert their own meanings, but the weak plot isn’t worth the effort. Unlike the musical adaptation of Colette’s novel GIGI, this movie celebrates the extravagant, immoral lifestyle of the upper class French prostitutes of the story. Consequently, it contains multiple sex scenes and brief nudity, with a very strong Romantic worldview flaunting traditional morality.
(RoRoRo, L, SS, NN, AA, DD, MM) Very strong Romantic worldview, often implied; zero obscenities and four light profanities, two of which are strongly blasphemous; no violence but a verbal reference to suicide; depicted fornication in one scene, implied adulterous sex, depicted marital sex in two or three scenes, implied sex, unmarried couple shown lying in bed together, married couple shown lying in bed together, man lies in bed with two half-naked women, and references to prostitution; brief upper female nudity in three or so scenes, brief rear male nudity in two scenes, and upper male nudity in multiple scenes; alcohol use and brief drunkenness; smoking, minor character smokes opium and sniffs cocaine, and depressed protagonist turns down offer of opium pipe; and, lying, older woman talks about paying for all of younger lover’s expenses, jealousy, ridicule of others, gold digging, arranged marriage for young woman’s wealth.
CHÉRI (“Cheh-ree”) is a sex comedy set in the early 20th Century about a retired French courtesan, or prostitute to wealthy men and royalty, and her affair with a young man. Michelle Pfeiffer stars as the courtesan, Lea, who starts an affair with a 19-year-old man, Fred. Fred is the son of another courtesan, and Lea has known him since he was a boy, when she nicknamed him Chéri. The fortysomething Lea begins a torrid affair with Chéri, and the story jumps ahead six years later. To the surprise of both people, they are still together, though unmarried. Suddenly, Chéri’s mother arranges a marriage for her son with the rich 18-year-old heir to another courtesan. The marriage happens, but the two former lovers still pine for one another’s love.
Based on two novels by the scandalous French writer Colette, this movie is often confusing. Cheri’s mother pawns him off on Lea, then is the one responsible for his arranged marriage to Edmee. Also, Lea is the one who pays for everything for the two lovers instead of the other way around. Thus, the character motivations are unexplained and perplexing, including the last scene between the two former lovers. Viewers have to read between the lines and attach their own meanings to the characters, but the story and plot aren’t worth the effort.
Colette was known for her affairs with both sexes, and her multiple marriages. Unlike the musical adaptation of Colette’s novel GIGI, this movie adaptation does not extol marriage. Instead, it celebrates the extravagant, immoral lifestyle of the upper class French prostitutes of its day, which was probably the actual intent of the original novelist anyway. Consequently, CHÉRI contains multiple sex scenes and brief sexual nudity. It has a very strong Romantic worldview, which tragically concludes that society back then, even the society of prostitutes, could not accept two lovers with such huge age differences between them.