I've been hankering to see Stephen Frears' new adaptation of Colette's Cheri since I peeped a still in a recent Vanity Fair. Good luck finding it at the massive Cine-Odeo-Plexitron that dominates filmgoing out here in the burbs, though. I don't mean to be a snob; it'd be swell if you could choose vintage Bergman or a recent Brothers Quay or Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (which I'd also like to see--I like those marching Gummi Bears) but for that kind of variety you do have to go into the city. Do not let me get started.
So anyway...Cheri. Of course the idiot brigade is already out in force: I saw a review just now that calls Michelle Pfeifer's character "the original cougar." I know, I know, "cougar" is a word that now has wide cultural currency, and since Lea is an older woman hooking up with a younger man (though personally--and no disrespect to a fine actor--I would have thought Rupert a little long in the tooth for the Cheri role himself), calling her a "cougar" is an easy way to convey the essence of the story to people who are looking for date-films on Kindle. It's like "man-cave," which now seems to be dominating the HGTV and reality-shows my wife likes. All the men on those shows are these rather pathetic fading-jock types who keep--I swear, they actually do say things like, "But there's no room for my man-cave!" when they go looking at overpriced houses with their relentlessly annoying wives. A "man-cave" is apparently a "guy" room where "guy" stuff is kept and enjoyed. And what "guys" enjoy, apparently, is sports, sports memorabilia, televised sports, and sports. Guys apparently do not read books, listen to music other than Klassik Rock and white-boy pseudo-blues, or watch movies...at least not in their man-caves, which seem to be primarily places for socializing with other men. "Socializing" as in bitching about the wife and engaging in mock-aggressive insult-fests.
I don't mind my fellow mens wallowing in stereotypical "guy" behavior...actually, yes I do. It's idiotic, and I despise it with my last drop of heart's blood. I hate "guys," I hate their whiny, spoiled wives, and I hate "man-caves." My "man-cave" is the laptop screen or printed page I'm looking at. It's like...you know how in Hannibal, the novel where Thomas Harris revealed his (and an entire nation's) "man-crush" (DON'T GET ME STARTED!!!
We were talking about Colette, right?
My first encounter with her had been in the late 80s/early 90s when the First Girlfriend and I read a few of the early Claudine novels. I liked the writing, but they didn't make that much of an impression on me. It wasn't for another several years that I would discover a beat-up copy of The Ripening Seed in the Mt Pleasant library. Something about it--the intensely visual nature of the writing and the descriptions of the beach--got to me. Not long after I found an old paperback (with an Edward Gorey cover) of The Vagabond backed w/My Mother's House and I was hooked for good.
My favorite Colette would probably be The Cat, a short novel about a spoiled young man whose marriage to a noveau riche beauty is overturned by his rediscovery of the intense, almost-loving, just-short-of-creepy relationship he had enjoyed as a boy with the family cat. I love Colette best when she steps away from (admittedly razor-sharp) depictions of the hypocracies and game-playing found in society living (as in Cheri, now that I think of it) towards the inner lives of her characters and their relationships with nature. The Cat has some remarkable moments in that regard. It would make a hell of a movie itself, come to think of it.
How about it, Mr. Frears? Somebody?