13: Cheri (DVD)

Despite appearances, Michelle Pfeiffer’s character is not called Cheri. This is distracting.

I kind of regret not seeing Cheri in the cinema. I like Stephen Frears anything goes approach to his recent directing career, bouncing from good to bad project. He strikes me as a very anti-auteurist director,which is not to say he isn’t stylish but the style always seems subservient to the project. And here the project is a fluffy costume drama, a return to Dangerous Liasons territory. Without any of the heft. Its the story of Michelle Pfeiffer’s aging Parisien prostitute’s hold over her younger paramour, and what happens when he goes off and gets married. It looks great, but is a bit fluffy and inconsequential. But any period film that comes in at 1.30 I would be loathe to call bad. It is at least concisely entertaining.

Part of the secret of the brevity is the addition of a narrator who fills in a lot of the information in advance, and even delivers the
dramatic conclusion showing it. Tell don’t show is very much in evidence at the start and end of this film The choice of a narrator in a film like this is always interesting. You can pick a lead character to narrate their own story, though that grounds the narration with that character. You can pick a minor character, to genuflect ironically on a story they are tangentially involved in. Since Cheri shares a milleu and themes with Gigi I thought that was going on here. I knew the voice, and was just waiting for the actor to turn up to remember who it was. And then in the final scene, when I had accepted that maybe he wouldn’t show,I realised why. The voiceover is done by Frears himself. The films director was explaining the film to me. I can’t think of another film where that happens, and one which appears to be almost an admission that other more cinematic versions of the piece did not work. Since it strikes me that getting yourself in to do the voiceover is a very last minute thing to do.

Film 2Oh!! is me trying to write about every film I have seen this year,this year. I’ve seen 81 and now written about 13.