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Directed by Stephen Frears (Miramax)

Oh, to live in a time when debauchery was its own excuse. Like the 1970s, or fin-de-siecle Paris, where this story---adapted from a pair of books by French novelist Colette---is set. Frears and screenwriter Christopher Hampton are reunited with star Michelle Pfeiffer, all of whom shone in Dangerous Liaisons in 1988. Pfeiffer's Lea is a very successful but aging courtesan who falls for Rupert Friend's Chéri, the titular rake and indolent son of Kathy Bates' Madame Peloux, who is in the same business as Lea. Pfeiffer, the costumes and sets are all dazzling, and the ending is effective, but the picture is neither sexy nor involving enough to engage, and Chéri is so sullen and petulant it's hard to see why Lea finds him appealing.

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Vol 25, No 21
October 19, 2017

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