6 thoughts on “The Belle Époque World of Chéri (2009)

  1. This is one of my favourite Belle Epoque/Art Nouveau films. Clothes, as you mentioned are to die for. It’s romantic and real simultaneously. You glimpse a world of the most successful courtesans of Paris during the era of the fictional Gigi, the great actress Sarah Bernhardt, and Proust’s muse and fashion-setter Elizabeth Countess Greffuhle: their lives, children, wealth and the world is beautiful.

  2. The dresses were amazing! Lea’s bed was also beautifully Art Nouveau. Kathy Bates is always fun to watch and especially so when she’s in historical costume.

  3. Except for the ending (I really, really, REALLY hate unhappy endings in movies, and I don’t care if it’s irrational), this is one of my favorite Belle Epoque movies of the last couple of decades. As another comment noted, it focuses on some of the most intriguing people of the Paris of that era – the great courtesans, who were at the very top of a certain stratum of society (stipulating that they’d never have been able to get in through the doors of the stuffy people called “the Four Hundred” in Gilded Age New York) – and I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading about the high-level Parisian demimonde lately.

  4. The architecture and costumes in the movie are gorgeous beyond belief and Michelle Pfeiffer embodies elegance. She and Kathy Bates bring their frenemy retired courtesans to life to such detail that one can feel the frustration of Lea for not having anyone else to hang out than the disguised manipulator Charlotte. That’s all I actually liked about the movie. The persisting trope of old, fat and fallen women being wooed by handsome, rich, athletic men, being treated as if they are the superstars while younger, beautiful, unsoiled women were ridiculed might get standing ovations from today’s feminazis. The other idea of courtesans being business savvy and exercising conscious restrain with their earnings is far from the truth as only a few grand Horizontales actually enjoyed comfort in their old age due to lack of economic understanding, addictions like gambling and drugs and lavish spending and partying. But everyone has their opinion.

  5. Both sets and costumes are magnificent; I still think about that rose-shaded allée where, as I recall, Léa and Charlotte go walking. But I was so dismayed by Michelle Pfeiffer’s “relatable” casting (presumably her name helped induce financial backing). While I usually like Pfeiffer very much, a gorgeous, desirable courtesan of the period didn’t resemble a middle-aged California surfer. Colette would have been horrified to see her lush Léa portrayed this way.

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