Cheri (2009)

3 Kernels


Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, and Kathy Bates
Type: Movie

 

Since I’ve written a book myself about 19th century legalized prostitution in France and the way things were, an acquaintance recommended I watch this movie. After all the research I’ve done on prostitution, mistresses, lorettes, and the like, it was interesting to see the life of an aging, though gorgeous, woman in that profession. Of course, let’s be honest ladies, Michelle Pfeiffer never ages. :inserts sneer of jealousy:

Cheri, based on a novel of the same name, is set in 1900 France. Lea, the aging courtesan, falls in love with the son of another courtesan. Both ladies are rich from their years of sexual trysts with high society men and aristocrats. Factually, that’s quite true that courtesans were showered with gifts from their benefactors of money and jewels.

The question remains — what happens to those women when they age? Well, Cheri, is a good example of one woman clinging to her youth through a man (named Fred, but nicknamed Cheri), who is old enough to be her own son. She let’s herself fall in love, when she really knows better than to get emotionally involved, and he falls in love with her against his better judgment. A six-year affair ensues, even when he marries another. The outcome of their relationship is heartbreaking.

I thoroughly understand the desperate attempt of a woman who wants to keep their attractive youth and need to be desired. After all, she’s spent the majority of her life been desired, sought after by important men, and pampered. Yet it was quite sad to think after all she’s attained monetarily in life, she’s never obtained the true riches of a lasting love and relationship. She may die rich and good looking, but no doubt she’ll die alone.

The premise was interesting, the acting so-so, the pace a bit tiring, but Michelle’s wardrobe was to die for (along with her figure). Rupert Friend portrayed his character quite well, and good old Kathy Bates is always great in whatever she does.

Favorite Lines: (Lea de Lonval): I’m probably making a fool of myself… but then again, why not? Life is short!

The Young Victoria (2009)

4 Kernels

Stars: Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend

Type: Movie

Once again, like a magnet, I’m drawn to another historical movie regarding the British and their monarchs. If you’ve watched Judy Dench play Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown, as Queen Victoria in her later years, you’ll find this opposite end of Victoria’s life just as fascinating.

It’s a story of Victoria coming into her own person as a young lady and Queen of England. Her life is played like a game of chess by her mother and advisers, while the world around her moves the pieces to places of power and alliances. The story focuses upon Victoria meeting the handsome Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Even though the match seems to be cleverly orchestrated, the two fall in love. I thought it quite interesting that the Queen had to propose, and Prince Albert could not.

Victoria’s love of Albert is touching, though you have to wonder what it was like for a man to play a subservient role to his wife, the Queen. Though she puts him in his place on one occasion through a heated argument, they eventually learn to be one together during the early years of her rule.

Of course, it’s Hollywood, filled with a script of conjectures and probably void of reality. Nevertheless, I found the movie entertaining and interesting. It was well acted, the lavish life of the royals, the period costumes, and the coronation in all it’s pomp — it’s what the British do best.

My only complaint was the ending of the movie. It seemed rushed and all too quick. (Of course, I shouldn’t complain, since I’ve received that same comment in a review of my first book.)

Also, if you liked this movie, but haven’t seen Mrs. Brown, I highly recommend that you do. You’ll see the brokenhearted Queen still in love with her dead husband, who finds an unusual friend in another man.

Favorite Lines: Princess Victoria: Do you ever feel like a chess piece yourself? In a game being played against your will.
Prince Albert: Do you?
Princess Victoria: Constantly. I see them leaning in and moving me around the board.
Prince Albert: The Duchess and Sir John?
Princess Victoria: Not just them. Uncle Leopold. The king. I’m sure half the politicians are ready to seize hold of my skirts and drag me from square to square.
Prince Albert: Then you had better master the rules of the game until you play it better than they can.

Favorite Scene: Waltzing at the ball, of course!

North and South (2005)

5 Kernels


Stars:
Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage and Tim Pigott-Smith

Type:
BBC Television Series

 

Based on 1855 Victorian novel North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell, which I have read, comes the wonderful television adaptation by the British. I’d be a dunce not to give this series less than five kernels, because frankly it ranks as one of my favorites. The perfect story of two personalities who clash, but can’t help falling in love with one another. The stern businessman, John Thornton, and the feisty and independent Margaret Hale. The dichotomy of their worlds collide in this wonderful series.

Margaret’s father, a former vicar, for reasons of conscience moves his family from the south of England to the northern industrial town of Milton. His wife, daughter, and housekeeper follow him without question, but are faced with the difficulty of acclimating to a world far different from the one they’ve known.

Since I have English family members who came from northern England (Manchester) and were business tradesmen (brick makers) during the Victorian era, as well, I found this series fascinating. The struggle of the poor working men, women, and children, compared to the hard and strict owners of the mills portrayed the struggle of each class in their bid to survive. The mill owners are trying to make enough to keep open, while the workers are starving and dying from poor working conditions and low pay. The rise of unions, strikes, and hardship tug at your heart throughout the story.

Richard Armitage was broodingly dreamy! Daniela Denby-Ash was a perfect fit for Margaret. The pair made a great iron-upon-iron relationship that finally blends together in perfect harmony. Needless to say, I loved the series. The ending was heartwarming, and the final relenting kiss of Margaret’s lips upon the hand of the man she loved was priceless.

Favorite Lines: “I wish I could tell you how lonely I am. How cold and harsh it is here. Everywhere there is conflict and unkindness. I think God has forsaken this place. I believe I have seen hell and it’s white, it’s snow-white.” (Margaret Hale)

“One minute we talk of the color of fruit, the next of love. How does that happen?” (John Thornton)

Favorite Scene: The train station at the end where Margaret finally expresses her feelings and Thornton kisses her tenderly. Sigh… Let’s just relive it here.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles (2008)

3 Kernels

Stars: Gemma Arterton, Hans Matheson, Ruth Jones, Jodie Whittaker, Eddie Redmayne and others.

Type: BBC Television Series

 

People complain about The Price of Innocence being a book that touts the message “life is a bitch and then you die,” well you can add this story to the list. Talk about depressing. This is BBC’s four-hour adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s book (which I have not read, by the way).

It was one of those stories that breaks your heart through the majority of the series, as you watch young Tess struggle through a life of poverty during the Victorian era. She could have been a woman of potential in spite of her lot in life, but bad choices, poor circumstances, and the men she encounters is enough to make you go for a Skinny Cow after the bag of popcorn.

I found it to be well portrayed in acting, setting, and costumes. I must say you get caught up in each of the character’s lives. You feel terribly sorry for Tess’ life and struggle of survival. I found myself becoming very angry at her unforgiving husband, who frankly I blamed just as much for the outcome of her life. As far as the man who manipulates her to destruction, well, I could have killed him too.

If you can handle the outcome of the story, it’s a good watch. But if you’re looking for an uplifting story to leave you feeling great, move on elsewhere. Otherwise, you’ll overeat during this sitting. It’s hard to toss a TV across the room because the story dragged you down.

I’ll skip the favorite character, lines, and scenes in this one.

%d bloggers like this: