Friday, July 17, 2009



The Belle Époque (French for "Beautiful Era") was a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until the outbreak of World War I. This was a "golden age" for the upper classes, as peace prevailed among the major powers of Europe while new technologies improved lives resulting in the dramatic separation between the fortunes and daily life of the “haves” and “have nots". In the United States, this time frame was dubbed the “Gilded Age”.

Michelle Pfeiffer: retired courtesan Léa de Lonval
Kathy Bates: her friend Madame Charlotte Peloux
Rupert Friend: Charlotte’s son 19-year old Fred aka Chéri
Felicity Jones: 18-year old Edmée

High production values have captured the look of the Belle Époque. In fact the look of the film is its strong point: lovely sets, stunning costumes, beautiful cinematography and great attention to detail. But it fails terribly in creating an interesting story and seems like a soap opera without the commercials.

As with most films adapted from a novel, there are too many words. But the words don’t ring true. Nor does the romantic relationship that develops as time goes on.

As for the acting, Bates and Pfeiffer are better than Rupert Friend. Way better.

Perhaps the best indication of the film’s shortcomings is the voice-over explaining what is going on: a well written movie doesn’t need that.

for some sexual content and brief drug use.

Léa comes down and stops at the foot of the stairs to greet Madame Peloux. But with the change in the camera position, Léa has magically put herself in front of Mme. Peloux as they begin walking towards the dining room.

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