Friday, July 24, 2009


I'm not sure what to make of this film. The voice over has that slightly mocking tone I expect in a comedy. Similarly many of the supporting characters are one dimensional and over the top, but Rupert Friend and Michelle Pfeiffer play the title role and Léa de Lonval dead straight.

Michelle Pfeiffer dominates this film where she is playing a successful, ageing, yet still beautiful courtesan in pre-World War I Paris. Rupert Friend despite his title role is hampered by the fact that he is playing opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and that his character is supposed to have no personality or sense of purpose. He is the 19 year old son of a Madame Poloux (Kathy Bates) a fabulously rich, retired courtesan (and solo mum) who in her day was a rival of Léa's. She asks Léa to take young Chéri in hand and stop him self destructing in a life of debauchery. Léa, who is between patrons, succeeds in the only way she knows how. Though she is disturbed that for the first time in her life she is spending money on a man rather than having a man spend money on her.

The film is utterly luscious both in terms of the Art Nouveau architecture and Michelle Pfeiffer's wardrobe. While there are some funny moments, if it was intended to be a comedy, it could have done with a wittier dialogue. If it was intended to be a sad or serious view on the end of a era or the end of a career then it needed a more focused plot. If it was intended to be romantic or sexy then the seduction scenes needed to last a lot longer than 10 seconds -- especially as courtesans were more about the promise or suggestion of sex than sex itself. If you were expecting something like Dangerous Liaisons which was also directed by Stephan Frears then only the attention to costume, sets and locations (and the presence of Michelle Pfeiffer) are similar.

Ian's rating 2.5/5 (Another view point)

No comments:

Post a Comment