My DVD stopped working about ten minutes before the end of the movie. I was not upset by this. The only way it could have enhanced the experience for me was if every awful person in this movie died in a fiery car accident, which seems unlikely and inappropriate, but at least something worth a damn would have happened.
Because really, who CARES what happens in Cheri? I always feel so bad when films like this get made, because they're almost always expensive and no one seems to watch them but gay men and the shrinking number of people who are interested in period flicks. Unfortunately, my sympathies pretty much end there, since Cheri is an hour and a half in the doldrums which you could skip without a worry. There is absolutely no challenge here, no tension, nothing to keep a viewer interested in the movie. The worst possible scenario is that Michelle Pfeiffer's aging, though still beautiful, courtesan Lea is screwed out of her idealized boy-toy. Sure, they spent six supposedly happy (if not tumultuous) years together, but what's so special about Cheri that Lea would fall in love like she never had with any of her other clients? Is she afraid of losing her allure in her old age? Is she into his unkempt hair? Cheri himself is a dull character, a collection of over-sharp quips that seems to perfectly embody the script of the film, done no favors by Rupert Friend's reasonably attractive but utterly uncreative performance. All he seems to do in his scenes is spit venom all over whoever he's acting across from. No depth, no convincing tenderness or vulnerability. Pfeiffer herself fares better, though she has a serious problem finding a proper voice and accent - honestly, the rest of the cast falls prey to this, so maybe it's a foible in the direction. When Lea is curt, it seems a little more convincing, but her attempts at laying herself bare for this boy she loves simply don't do the trick in the face of the script's underdeveloped treatment of the relationship. Finally, Kathy Bates is the movie's third prominent character, one that could be read two ways. If Cheri is overly stagey and self-interested on purpose, her performance lampshades this impeccably, as she storms through the movie guffawing and grimacing with all the force in the world. If it's taking itself a little more seriously, she's nightmarishly bad and totally unsuited to period. In any event, she's bawdy and perversely hilarious in her too-tight corsets; her bosom seems to be lifted all the way to her chin and it's kind of great.
I will grudgingly give the movie credit where credit is due. Darius Khondiji films the affair with generous light and color, and the film moves quickly with its short scenes and trim editing. Unfortunately, it goes to no real destination, and by the time the movie's over you feel like you've barely seen anything at all. Unless you are REALLY hard up for a 2009 period piece or a die hard Pfeiffer fan, I highly recommend you skip this one.