Chéri (2009)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  17 July 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 8,596 users   Metascore: 63/100
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The son of a courtesan retreats into a fantasy world after being forced to end his relationship with the older woman who educated him in the ways of love.



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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frances Tomelty ...
Vicomte Desmond
Hubert Tellegen ...
Alain Churin ...
Bette Bourne ...
Nichola McAuliffe ...
Madame Aldonza
Andras Hamori ...
Silver Haired Industrialist
Gaye Brown ...


During France's belle époque before World War I, elegant cars, mansions, and servants defined the lives of les grandes horizontals, the courtesans of kings and millionaires. One of the most successful, Lea de Lonval, is approaching a certain age when an older associate, Charlotte Peloux, asks Lea to take on her 19 year old son, whom Lea has called Chéri since he was a child. They become lovers and, to their surprise, the relationship lasts six years. When it ends abruptly with a marriage his mother arranges to the daughter of another courtesan, Lea finds herself miserable. Has she fallen in love? If so, do she -- and Chéri - have any choices? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Indulge in a wicked game of seduction. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexual content and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

17 July 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cheri  »

Box Office


$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£120,234 (UK) (8 May 2009)


$2,708,188 (USA) (21 August 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Terrence McNally wrote the role of Frankie in the play "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" especially for Kathy Bates. When it came to casting the role for the movie version Frankie and Johnny (1991), Bates lost the role to Michelle Pfeiffer, her co-star in this movie. See more »


In the closing credits, 'thanks' are given to France's national railway, the Societe National Chemin de Fer, known as the "SNCF". However the credits have the letters out of sequence, calling it the "SCNF". See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: We may think ourselves familiar in this day and age with the notion that whores of every description can very easily achieve fame and fortune. But towards the end of the 19th century, there what came to be known in France as the "Belle Epoque", a select group of courtesans, who became for a short period, the most celebrated and powerful women in the long history of prostitution.
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User Reviews

Sanitized Colette
25 October 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Stephen Frears has created some powerful and very well crafted movies: 'Dangerous Liaisons', 'My Beautiful Laundrette', 'The Grifters', 'The Queen', 'Prick up your Ears', 'Dirty Pretty Things', etc. One would expect that his experience in dealing with edgy issues would make him the perfect choice for adapting the famous French writer of 'naughty novels' - Colette - but somewhere in the flow of this production, perhaps in the Christopher Hampton's adaptation of the novel to screenplay, the original stories become perfumed and sanitized. And the reasons why this happened remain obscure.

The story is simple: courtesans in Paris must eventually retire form their lives of becoming wealthy through pleasing men of the higher class, and either they live out their lives in the luxuries of fluff or they must confront their aging and feel pangs of remorse as they end their lives alone, without a man to bolster them. Lea de Lonval (Michelle Pfeiffer) has been longtime 'friends' with Madame Peloux (Kathy Bates), even to the point of nurturing Madame's son Chéri (Rupert Friend) as he approaches manhood. Madame asks Lea to 'polish' Chéri for other women and after what might have been a brief fling in Normandy, the young Chéri and the aging Lea fall into a six year relationship. But as Madame realizes she needs grandchildren, she eventually finds a proper girl Edmee (Felicity Jones) for Chéri to marry. The remainder of the story is how these two age-disparate characters adapt to the 'social rules' of La Belle Epoque, suggesting that even under extraordinary circumstances the power of love is an issue that must be confronted.

Despite the performances by Pfeiffer and Friend (and even the miscast Bates) the story feels somehow sterile. Perhaps it is the out of place use of a male narrator who gives the film an unnecessary feeling of being a documentary, or the somewhat overused musical score of Alexandre Desplat, or the emphasis on costumes that hardly add to the beauty of Pfeiffer as Lea that keep the production grounded. It is a pleasant enough film, but hardly a memorable one. Grady Harp

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