I didn't know much about French novelist Colette (seated spectacularly, left) prior to the news about this movie and I blame that on Gigi the movie which is based on her most famous novel. I'd never read it because I didn't like the movie. I figured she wasn't for me. How wrong I was! The more I learn about Colette, the more I love. Not only am I instantly on board with her writing but then to learn that she was once a performer at the Moulin Rouge?!? Add in lesbian love affairs, the ability to frequently scandalize/offend the public and end up hugely celebrated anyway (enormous appealing!) and top it off with a crucial role in making Audrey Hepburn a star (she was a virtual unknown when Colette demanded she play "Gigi" on stage which led directly to Audrey's Oscar winning coming out ball in Roman Holiday)... well, in short, she's swoon worthy.
The romantic relationship she penned in Chéri is between the 49 year old Léa (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her closest friend's (Kathy Bates) gorgeous and callow 20something son, Chéri (Rupert Friend) but it begins when he is only a teenager. Before you start thinking about The Reader controversy all over again, the better modern film perspective might be --psychologically speaking and at least in the beginning of the relationship -- the Amber Waves / Dirk Diggler pairing in Boogie Nights. The older woman's childless maternal instincts seem to be all entangled with her sexual ones while the younger man's feelings are opaque and possibly skin deep. Who knows how far the film or any of the actors will take the material but it could be something.
I'm especially eager to see Bates and Pfeiffer play this oddly close but not at all close friendship.
They had known each other for twenty-five years. Theirs was the hostile intimacy of light women, enriched and then cast aside by one man, ruined by another: the tetchy affection of rivals stalking one another's first wrinkle or white hair.We should be hearing opinions on the film quite shortly now. Two time Oscar nominee Director Stephen Frears has led six actresses to nominations in the past (for The Grifters, Dangerous Liaisons, Mrs. Henderson Presents and The Queen). Will Bates, Pfeiffer and Frears all head back to the Kodak theater in February 2010? It's too early to predict and entirely foolish to presume but that won't stop the hoping.
Theirs was the friendship of two practical women of the world, both adepts at the money games; but one of them a miser, and the other a sybarite. These bonds count. Rather late in the day, a stronger bond had come to link them more closely: Chéri.