Picks and Pans Review: Cheri

updated 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates, Rupert Friend | R |


The belle epoque costumes here are so sumptuous, multilayered and colorful, they resemble walking parfaits. Too bad the movie in which they're worn isn't nearly as delicious. Cheri is about Léa (Pfeiffer), a retired Parisian courtesan who falls hard for the title character (Friend), a beautiful but feckless young man. It's based on Colette's witty and wise novellas Chéri and The Last of Chéri. Despite the best efforts of Pfeiffer, who swans about with world-weary grace, this surprisingly wan effort from director Stephen Frears (The Queen) never achieves liftoff. The problem: the almost too pretty Friend, who plays Chéri as such a spineless, pouty layabout that you keep wishing Léa would kick him to the curb already.

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