Her life was full of romantic intrigues with both men and women, so it's hardly surprising that in her book and in Stephen Frears' adaptation, Chéri, a beautiful young man, for whom the story is named, takes his own life for the love of an older woman, the courtesan Léa. Clearly Colette knew how to see women with the eyes of a lover. And what she sees is good for the soul.
I'm not critiquing the film (suffice it to say that though the acting was at times stilted, the film is a feast for the eyes and the middle aged heart), I'm merely here to say that the story did me good. Sitting on the brink of 50, contemplating still what it means to age in this unkind culture and what it means to be truly "beautiful," it was exhilarating to see Michele Pfeiffer holding her gorgeous own next to an actor (Rupert Friend) 23 years her junior. I don't know what she has done to maintain herself, and I don't really care. Her age (and the age of her character)—as I believe it always is—is evident. And it is stunning. Her hands, her eyes, and those rather decisive lines that run from the nose to the sides of her mouth—they don't lie.
If lines speak of years, they also speak of experience. And in this story it is her experience that wins and ruins his heart. But it is also her own knowledge and painful recognition of the truth of Age versus Youth that renders the story warm and real and—there's that word again—beautiful. The struggle, particularly in a woman who's entire livelihood had been based on her physical charms, is a valiant one.
So, girlfriends. If you haven't seen it, rent it, watch it, and love yourself for all that you are. Going back in time wouldn't make you more beautiful. In fact, it might make you less so.