Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hers & His

Chéri — a summer 2009 movie that explores the love affair between an aging courtesan and a 19-year-old man-boy in Belle Epoque France — just moved to the top of our Netflix queue, and we watched it last night. Some thoughts on the film and its themes:

Sheri: The young lover in Chéri is a shallow, self-absorbed sylphlike creature, not one many women — old or young — would find tempting. Still, one moment in the film touches close to home for this older woman (me):

Lea (Michelle Pfeiffer made up to look even older than her 51 years) says to her young lover, who has returned to her after a separation, You came back to me and found an old woman.

In the younger man/older woman relationship, there is no growing old together. We grow old at different rates: Me first, then you. That’s not tragic, not the end of the affair. Just a reality.

Michael: Chéri rushes through its opening narration (offered by a God-like narrator if God were avuncular and unnecessary) and never slows until the film’s last moments. At that point, apparently, we should be grieving for the end of this love affair between a lonely aging courtesan and a feckless, craven younger man .... but it’s too late; there’s no mourning for lovers we don’t love. Lots of pretty costumes, though. Here’s an interesting shift for Hollywood given the older woman-younger man dynamic: We see way more of actor Rupert Friend’s naked, blemish-free and hairless bod than Michelle Pfeiffer’s 50-something physique. I protest this objectification of younger men!

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