"Like a passable bottle of champagne, Cheri fizzes and slides down quite easily but lacks real body and doesn’t really hit the spot. Driven along by Alexandre Desplat’s busy score, scrumptious duds by Consolata Boyle, pastel-tinged widescreen lensing by Darius Khondji and, most of all, by Kathy Bates‘ [right] scene-stealing turn, this Stephen Frears-Christopher Hampton adaptation of Colette’s famous Belle Epoque tale of romance between an experienced older courtesan and a spoiled youth [Rupert Friend, as the "Cheri" of the title] is, like Michelle Pfeiffer’s lead perf, short on real passion and emotion."
Here’s a rather different take on Chéri by The [London] Times‘ Stephen Dalton:
"Frears handles this slow shift from romantic frolic [between the middle-aged courtesan and the 19-year-old youth] to mournful elegy with a pleasingly light touch. Hampton’s crisp screenplay keeps it lively with a steady flow of dry quips and acerbic one-liners. Pfeiffer’s performance is magnetic and subtle, her worldly nonchalance a mask for vulnerability and heartache.
"Unfortunately, the character of Chéri feels bland and colourless. A willowy, floppy-fringed Orlando Bloom-a-like, Friend is no match for Pfeiffer and unconvincing as an object of romantic, lustful obsession. A seasoned femme fatale such as Léa would eat him for petit déjeuner and be bored to tears by cocktail time."
"If you think hitting 40 is liberating, wait until you hit 50. I was surprised how liberating it was. The anticipation is always much worse than reality. There is the anticipating of turning over that big number, then you turn 50 and go ‘okay’. If anything, it makes you more grateful for what you’ve got."
Also at the conference: Michelle Pfeiffer on older women — such as herself in Chéri and Kate Winslet in The Reader — being sexually and/or romantically involved on-screen with much younger men (via The Local):
"I think it’s a positive step in the right direction."
A blog post by Spiegel Online’s Wolfgang Höbel has created a Berlinale press-office furor (via Scott Roxborough in The Hollywood Reporter):
"’The hardest, meanest, most unhelpful press department in the world … with maximum unfriendliness and Prussian administrative crabbiness,’ Höbel wrote before comparing employees at the press office with the single mother Katie, played by Alexandra Lamy in François Ozon’s Ricky.
"’(Katie) is as bitchy, frustrated and overwhelmed as the ladies in the Berlinale press office but at least she appears to enjoy sex,’ he wrote."
[One press office employee responded: "I think Mr. Höbel’s issue are with his parents, not with us."]