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"CHERI"
(2009) (Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy None Heavy None Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None None None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Extreme Moderate Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: On the eve of retiring from her profession that's left her a rich, but unloved woman in pre WWI Paris, a middle-aged courtesan ends up falling for the young but spoiled son of her friend and fellow former colleague.
PLOT:
In her prime, Lea de Lonval (MICHELLE PFEIFFER) was unmatched as the courtesan of choice in pre WWI Paris, a vocation that's left her rich, but without true love. Living in a mansion with a large staff including her personal aide, Rose (FRANCES TOMELTY), Lea is contemplating retiring from her line of work, what with now being middle-aged.

In doing so, she'd be joining the ranks of her fellow and now well-to-do colleagues, Marie Laure (IBEN HJEJLE), whom she can't stand, and Madame Peloux (KATHY BATES), with whom she's now friendly. The latter is worried about her spoiled and lazy 19-year-old son, Cheri (RUPERT FRIEND), and asks Lea for her help.

Yet, what begins as a temporary bit of educating him about life and love turns into a six-year relationship. Lea is generally pleased in her mother-lover role with Cheri, but is thrown for a loop when Madame Peloux announces she's arranged for her son to marry Marie Laure's 18-year-old daughter, Edmee (FELICITY JONES).

She knows it's the right thing for him to do, but finds this development and the subsequent marriage a shock to her self-esteem. From that point on, the former long-time lovers find themselves longing for each other, despite the obstacles in their way, including his marriage as well as the vast difference in their ages.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're into costume dramas and/or are fans of anyone in the cast, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For some sexual content and brief drug use.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MICHELLE PFEIFFER plays a middle-aged woman who's decided to retire from being a courtesan, a profession that's left her quite wealthy. As a courtesy to Madame Peloux, she takes Cheri under her wing to teach him about life and love, but ends up becoming his lover for six years. When his mother announces she's marrying him off to Edmee, that devastates Lea who becomes so racked with jealousy and embarrassment that she goes off to a resort and finds herself a young lover, but realizes he can't compare with her one true love. She smokes and it's suggested that she drinks, but we don't see any of that.
  • RUPERT FRIEND plays Madame Peloux's spoiled, lazy and rich son who becomes Lea's lover from the ages of 19 to 25. While he eventually weds Edmee in an arranged marriage, he can't stop thinking about Lea. He smokes, drinks and has sex with various women.
  • KATHY BATES plays his rich and somewhat decadent mother who allows him to become a lover/pupil to Lea, her former rival turned friend. A manipulator of various styles, she also arranges his marriage to Edmee, drinks some, and briefly smokes.
  • FELICITY JONES plays Cheri's young bride who isn't accustomed to the sexual demands of their marriage or having to reside in Lea's shadow.
  • IBEN HJEJLE plays her mother, another former courtesan who made a handsome living from her line of work.
  • FRANCES TOMELTY plays Lea's maid, assistant and confidante.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. A handful of religious and colorful phrases are uttered, while sexually related dialogue is present. Sexual encounters (movement, sounds, some nudity) and related fooling around are present, there's implied group sex, and some still images of bare breasts are seen.

    Drinking and smoking occur in various scenes, while there's brief drug content and some related dialogue. Some bad attitudes are present, as is some tense family material. There's a passing comment about a suicide via a gunshot.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's some of that from flicker from a fire.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • In the introductory sequence, we see a still image of a person smoking tobacco or possible opium, with some animated smoke wafting up from that.
  • People have drinks in a restaurant, including Cheri.
  • Madame Peloux has wine while smoking, and she tells Lea that her doctor told her (Madame Peloux) that she could smoke no more than 10 times a day and have brandy only on the weekends.
  • Cheri has a drink.
  • Lea tells Cheri that her plans for a trip are to eat, drink and sleep.
  • Lea tells Madame Peloux that she's kept Cheri away from opium, cocaine, and certain drinks.
  • Cheri and Lea have wine with dinner.
  • Madame Peloux and others drink.
  • Lea invites a young man in for a nightcap and he accepts (we don't see any subsequent drinking or fooling around if they occur).
  • Madame Peloux holds a drink, while Cheri has one.
  • People drink in a restaurant.
  • We see some people in what appears to be an opium den, and some of them appear high. A woman offers Cheri or his friend a pipe but that's declined, followed by the friend snorting a pinch of something.
  • We see champagne and other liquor bottles in Cheri's hotel room.
  • Lea and Madame Peloux have cognac.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Lea obviously doesn't like Marie Laure, her former rival.
  • Lea talks to her masseur about having Cheri as her lover, stating it's like being in bed with an African or "Chinese," although she states it's not that she's had that chance.
  • To try to save face, Lea lies about having a new, young lover.
  • Madame Peloux unthinkingly calls Edmee as Lea and refers to Edmee as "You're a bag of bones."
  • Cheri cheats on Edmee by having sex with Lea.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • The narrator states that a despondent man took his revolver and shot himself in the head (not seen).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "On your feet, lazy bones," "You were always disgustingly sentimental," "Shut up and deal," "He's looking positively sinister," "Bastard builders," "You're a bag of bones" and "It's part of your charm, stupid."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 4 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use of "Oh God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • In the introductory sequence, the film's narrator talks about "whores" and courtesans as we see old drawings and photographs showing bare-breasted women (it's mentioned that one such woman's breasts were the model for a hotel's cupolas), while there's mention of various lovers and related talk.
  • We see miscellaneous clothed making out in a restaurant.
  • We see Cheri, presumably post-sex, in bed with two women, both of whom are asleep (we see one's bare breasts and the other's bare back, while he's shirtless).
  • We see Lea's bare back as she stands from being in a tub, but nothing explicit is viewed as the camera doesn't go down that far.
  • Madame Peloux shows an abundant amount of cleavage that's partially covered by some sort of sheer material across the front of her dress.
  • Lea and Cheri passionately kiss while clothed, with her asking if he thought that would make her lose control, adding, "It's not like we'd..." (have sex). They then kiss some more.
  • We then see her on top of Cheri who's lying flat, and she lowers her top (we see her bare back almost down to the top of her bare butt that's otherwise covered by bedding). There's some sensual kissing and such seen in close-up, and sex is implied but not seen.
  • We see Cheri and another male boxer shirtless while they spar.
  • We see Cheri shirtless in bed where Lea feeds him what appear to be oysters from the shell. The two then playfully roll around on the bed, alternating who's on top, but no sex occurs.
  • We see Lea's bare back as she's getting a massage (lying face down, her lower half covered) from a clothed masseur. She talks to that man about having Cheri as her lover, stating it's like being in bed with an African or "Chinese," although she states it's not that she's had that chance. Cheri then passes by and playfully pats her covered butt.
  • We see Cheri shirtless on top of Lea, nuzzling her neck and groping her clothed breast. Yet, she tells him there will be none of that this morning as they must visit his mother.
  • When Madame Peloux announces she's arranged a marriage between Cheri and Edmee, Lea is surprised, but then say she's been expecting Madame Peloux to hand Cheri over to some other "loose woman."
  • Lea and Cheri passionately kiss while clothed on a bed, alternating being on top. No sex is seen, but it's implied, and we then see them lying on their sides facing each other. We see the side of his bare hip and her bare back, while her arm is blocking any view of her bare breasts. He then partially gets on top of her, but the scene ends.
  • We see Cheri in a bathtub and then in a towel (nothing explicit).
  • Madame Peloux shows cleavage.
  • On their honeymoon night, Edmee appears nervous and tries to leave, but Cheri grabs and pins her to a wall where he kisses her (forced sex is implied). We later see him on top of her having sex (a partial view), with him thrusting and her making/showing a pained response. That's followed by a remembered view of him on top of Lea having sex (a head and shoulders shot).
  • We see miscellaneous cleavage.
  • Another former courtesan kisses on her young lover, playfully pulls his head down into her cleavage, and states that she likes it when that young man talks dirty. During that display, there's talk of hoping someone informed Edmee about her wifely honeymoon duties, with Madame Peloux saying the young people know what to do, or at least Cheri does.
  • The narrator talks about a fine hotel where one might end up shoulder to shoulder with the prime minister or in a more intimate position with the Prince of Wales.
  • Lea invites a young man in for a nightcap and he accepts (we don't see any subsequent drinking or fooling around if they occur).
  • We see a full view of Cheri having side-by-side, rear entry sex with Edmee while lying on a bed. The view is partially obscured by shadows and nighttime darkness, but we can see his bare butt and thrusting, while also hearing her sounds.
  • Edmee is upset that Cheri was thinking of Lea while they were having sex (and at other times), telling Cheri that she hates him. He then asks doesn't she like the way he makes love to her, with Edmee replying, "You call that love?"
  • We see a young man thrusting away on top of Lea who has a mixture of boredom and disgust on her face.
  • Cheri's male friend mentions an English girl who knows some amazing tricks (meant sexually).
  • Cheri and Edmee passionately kiss on a bed, and start to undress, but the scene ends there.
  • About the above scene, Madame Peloux happily tells Lea that Cheri and Edmee are back together again, adding that Cheri was just sowing his wild oats. She then says that Cheri and Edmee headed straight for the bedroom, and that for the next hour and a half there wasn't a happier woman than her (Madame Peloux). Lea then asks if she meant Edmee, but Madame Peloux says no, that Edmee isn't really into that and is something of a cold fish.
  • We see Lea in just a towel (nothing explicit).
  • We see Cheri and Lea passionately kissing while clothed and him on top of her (in a head and shoulders shot). He then starts undressing, but the scene ends, although sex is implied and we see them in bed after the fact. When he then gets up, we see a full rear nude view of Cheri.
  • SMOKING
  • Cheri smokes more than 10 times, Madame Peloux and Lea smoke at least once, and a number of miscellaneous characters smoke (mostly cigarettes, but also at least one cigar) in several scenes.
  • In the introductory sequence, we see a still image of a person smoking tobacco or possible opium, with some animated smoke wafting up from that.
  • Madame Peloux has wine while smoking, and she tells Lea that her doctor told her (Madame Peloux) that she could smoke no more than 10 times a day and have brandy only on the weekends.
  • Lea half-jokes about the money she'll be saving by no longer paying everything for Cheri, adding that her next lover will only cost her loose change and a pack of cigarettes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Edmee states that her mom couldn't wait to get rid of her (via an arranged marriage) once the girl turned pretty.
  • Edmee is upset that Cheri was thinking of Lea while they were having sex (and at other times), telling Cheri that she hates him. He then asks doesn't she like the way he makes love to her, with Edmee replying, "You call that love?"
  • Edmee whacks Cheri's arm away when he patronizingly tries to touch her.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Courtesans and their like.
  • Cheri being a spoiled and lazy 19-year-old.
  • Madame Peloux arranging a marriage between her son and Edmee.
  • The notion of the love that only comes around once in life.
  • The comment that once one has had the taste of youth it's never satisfying, but they always go back for more.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Edmee whacks Cheri's arm away when he patronizingly tries to touch her.
  • Cheri briefly grabs Lea by her arms.
  • The narrator states that a despondent man took his revolver and shot himself in the head (not seen).



  • Reviewed June 12, 2009 / Posted June 26, 2009

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