Time Out says
The film is a sober portrait of unconventional love and restrained suffering – punctured by a moment of explicit, wailing, arch-backed pain – that may be undone by its discretion and quiet irony. If Pfeiffer is occasionally touching – hauling back her emotions when caught off-guard – then Friend, doing a passable impression of Terence Stamp in his beauteous youth, is too passive an object to be truly moving. His crucial marriage of convenience to fellow ‘orphan’ Edmée (Felicity Jones) makes him as much a cipher as an emotional victim of the veiled, hypocritical and corrupt machinery of capitalist business the book and film seek to expose and criticise. Indeed, Frears, who also supplies a knowing narration, is content to leave much of the film’s metaphor to exquisite architecture and design: notably the exotic, perfumed gardens of Chéri’s mother’s grand house in Neuilly where Lea repeatedly recalls her halcyon days with the boy, only compounding an impression of the film as a mere picture-book remembrance.
Cast and crew