A brisk, tightly paced take on the novel by French writer Collette, "Cheri" is another superb effort from director Stephen Frears ("Dangerous Liasons"). The picture opens in the early 1900s, with famed courtesan Lea de Lonval (Michelle Pfeiffer) engaging in an affair with Cheri (Rupert Friend), the 19-year-old son of Madame Perloux (Kathy Bates).
While the affair initially seems like a brief romp in the hay, out of their flings starts to grow a sprout of love that turns into a relationship that lasts six years. However, it's brought to a halt when Cheri finds out that a marriage is going to be arranged between him and Edmee (Felicity Jones), the 18-year-old daughter of another courtesan.
When the two are apart, they soon realize just how deep their relationship has become. Lea is devastated and misses him dearly, but is heartened to find just how much he has missed her, as well. While the two try their best to try and stay apart from one another, their hearts continue to pull them back together again and again.
At 92 minutes, "Cheri" moves like the wind, keeping its eye clearly only on the story at hand, and managing to drop all the fat. Frears has done a remarkable job with pacing and editing, clearing away all but the goodness, and there is a lot of goodness here: Pfeiffer offers a bold, radiant performance that makes one wish she would be given more roles. Friend stands up against her fierce performance quite capably, while Bates delivers another memorable supporting effort. "Cheri" also boasts stellar visuals, with terrific costume design, elegant sets/locations and superb cinematography from Darius Khondji ("Stealing Beauty").
Overall, "Cheri" didn't get much notice from audiences when it was released earlier this year, but it's worth a look for fans of the actors or fans of past films by Frears.
VIDEO: "Cheri" is presented by Miramax in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a largely excellent transfer that portrays the film's look quite strongly. Lighting and shadows look well-defined and the the picture overall has a crisp, clean appearance, with the fine details of sets and costumes clearly visible.
A very minor amount of grain was present in a couple of scenes and I did notice an instance or two of specks on the print used, but overall, the presentation appeared very clean. Compression artifacts were not seen throughout the film and pleasantly enough, neither was edge enhancement. Colors remained natural and flesh tones looked spot-on.
SOUND: "Cheri" is presented by Miramax in Dolby Digital 5.1. Clearly a dialogue-driven affair, the film's soundtrack offers little for the rear speakers to do. Surrounds do come in on a couple of occasions for light ambience, but that's really about all they do. Dialogue seemed clearly presented, sounding natural and offered without any instances of distortion or other concerns.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes and a "making of" documentary.
Final Thoughts: "Cheri" didn't get much notice from audiences when it was released earlier this year, but it's worth a look for fans of the actors or fans of past films by Frears. The DVD goes light on the extras, but offers fine audio/video quality.
The Film B+