Sunday, November 15, 2009
Movies are rarely on my radar screen, so it is not really surprising that I have not seen the 2008 movie version of Colette's Chéri, one of my all-time favorite novels. Nor have I made any effort to see the DVD or the streaming internet version or any other version. Friends told me it was beautiful to watch but unconvincing as a story. So I forgot about it. Then today I was looking at Style Bubble and found there all by accident a collection of stills from Chéri. Susie Bubble of Style Bubble had recently seen the film on a plane while crossing the Atlantic, and she waxed lyrical about "the painterly mood and a dusky yet rich palette that is making me drawn to anything that features pale lilac, duck egg blue, pistachio green, light peach and emerald green." I followed Susie Bubble's virtual pointer to Michelle Pfeiffer : The Face and there found enough stills and clips to convince me that this was now a movie I more or less could claim to have seen, though I kept the sound turned off throughout, following Susie's advice.
I came away with a conviction that the film is essentially about narcissism, while the novel is essentially about love. Colette actually wrote a sequel to finish the story, in which the Michelle Pfeiffer courtesan-character recovers from her infatuation, growing fat and jolly as a sociable retiree of independent means. The young man she adored follows her advice and makes a suitable marriage to an innocent and beautiful young heiress, which bores him so thoroughly that he ends up committing suicide.