It was a tough one, but I'm going with "Cherie." That's a 2009 movie I saw this week on DVD which stars Michelle Pfeiffer and is directed by Stephen Frears who directed her in "Dangerous Liasons." I love "Dangerous Liasons."
I had wanted to see "Cherie" for awhile. If I'd known Frears directeted it, I would have seen it sooner, in fact, I would have bought a ticket at the movies.
If, like me, you missed it, make up for it now.
It's a great film. It may even be better than "Dangerous Liasons." It's certainly more tragic. I was so sad at the end.
The other name actor in the film is Kathy Bates. She and Michelle Pfeiffer used to be courtesans -- upper class prostitutes. Michelle thinks she's leaving that life as the film starts. Kathy Bates has already left it some time ago. Kathy has a son, Cherie (played by Rupert Friend). Michelle's the only one he pays any attention to so Kathy asks her to talk to him.
She does, he flirts, they end up going away to her country farm for a few weeks.
A few weeks turns into six years and they're deeply in love.
And then one day they have to go Kathy's for lunch.
Well Cherie goes for lunch. Michelle's supposed to come after.
She does and is informed that Cherie is to be married next month. Kathy has set it up and, get this, Cherie knew and didn't tell Michelle.
She's heart broken but puts on a brave face and tells Cherie that he needs to move out because there will be so much planning and events around the wedding, ahead of it, and it won't look good for his wife-to-be for him to be living with Michelle. She tells him never to intentionally hurt his wife.
Then the marriage takes place.
Michelle eats a meal while it takes place.
And it hit me that the only thing worse than knowing someone you loved is getting married is knowing the exact time that's to take place.
So Michelle tries to keep up a brave face and Kathy invites her over and Kathy's really a bitch. She's that way throughout the movie but especially in this scene, bringing up Michelle's age, having another courtesan come over with a young prince -- the woman looks to be 60 and the prince is supposed to be 19 (but could pass for 15) and she treats the man like a child. The whole thing is supposed to be a parody of Cherie and Michelle.
Michelle grasps it and leaves. Kathy tries to stop her and Michelle announces she's actually got an engagement, implying that she's got another lover already.
So she goes back home and they pack and she departs for a seaside hotel.
There she sees a young man lifting weights who, when he sees her, tries to put on a great show for her. Sadly, the show is as inept as he ends up being. They do sleep together and it's him on top of her thrusting while she tries not to cry out in pain or fall asleep.
He's in love with her after that and she has to let him down gently.
The marriage is hell. Cherie is always lecturing his wife. She feels unloved. He can't stop talking about Michelle and is stupid enough to tell her he's thinking of Michelle.
So he ends up getting a hotel room and when word reaches Michelle of the split, she's convinced that they are meant to be and rushes back home.
Her first visitor is Kathy Bates. Who tells her Cherie asked her to check on Michelle. Is Kathy telling the truth?
Michelle hopes not and is despairing. Then Cherie is at the door demanding to be let in.
Michelle pretends she has a lover.
He ends up staying overnight and they make love. Michelle admits that there was no other love that he is the only love for her. And by this time, he's already ready to leave.
A few moments in the other direction and it could have been different. But she's totally exposed herself to him and he find her too old and they quarrel.
She says harsh words about his wife and he screams that she's destroying the Michelle he loved, the one who was kind and thoughtful. Michelle apologizes tells him that he needs to return to his wife, says some kinds things about the woman, notes that it couldn't have worked out for them and sends him away.
And she falls apart.
She is destroyed.
We learn that years later, after he fought in the war, Cherie returned home and realized that the only woman he ever loved was Michelle and that he had destroyed that (she's dead by this time) so he shoots himself dead.
It's a really good movie. I hope the description captures that and gives you an idea of what a tear jerker it is.
What would I have changed?
I would have beefed up the would-be body builder's part. He's an interesting character and how
Michelle probably thought Cherie would be when they first went off together. It would have been interesting to have seen more scenes with him and Michelle interacting. That could have included a more in depth go-away moment from Michelle since it underscores how she is kind (and how Cherie is a selfish bastard).
It's based on a novel by Colette. I don't know if the would-be body builder could have come back with her (when she learns Cherie's left his wife) but if it had been possible, I think it could have been used to great effect.
I would also have beefed up the role of her country servant (he teaches Cherie to box and gives massages). That would have meant adding time to the film though because I think all the other roles are perfect in terms of time and would have left them as is.
And I've mispelled "Cheri" and the character's name throughout. It's Cheri. C.I. just walked back and I asked her how you spell it. I'm glad I did because I figured that was how you spelled it ("Cherie") something just told me, "Ask her."
Anyway, it's a great movie. If you liked "Dangerous Liasons," you will love this.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"