– review – review

Lady Chatterley is a French film adaptation of John Thomas and Lady Jane,

which is the second of three separate and independent versions that D. H.

Lawrence wrote of his groundbreaking novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.He

considered the third version the definitive one—and that is the one we

secretly thrilled over as teenagers.

The back story of the film is that Constance Chatterley had been only 23

years old and had been married only briefly before her Cambridge graduate,

mine-owner husband, Sir Clifford, is seriously wounded at Flanders.He

returns wheelchair bound and impotent.

The film begins several years later, after the couple has moved to Wragby,

one of the Chatterley family properties.Lady Chatterley, (Marina Hands) is

isolated, bored and lonely.Sir Clifford (Hippolyte Girodot) exudes that

upper-class English arrogance, which, combined with the bitterness over his

injuries, leaves him remote and disagreeable.

And then Constance meets the gamekeeper, Parkin (Jean-Louis Coulloc’h) who

introduces her in the pleasures and passion of lovemaking.Unlike Lady

Chatterley’s Lover, in which the gamekeeper is a former British Indian Army

officer, in this film, Parkin is a simple small town recluse. So there is

some tension on Parkin’s part about their class differences.

Though the film, which runs for over two and a half hours, is at least an

hour too long, there are several lovely scenes of Constance’s sexual

awakening that today seem more innocent than erotic, although they are

frankly sexual.They are a pleasure to watch.But there are also some

annoying and recurring downward camera shots of the ground underfoot, a

narrator who interrupts the flow periodically to explain awkward scene

changes and, inexplicably, the introduction of music in only one brief scene

midway through the film.

The film’s French female director and screenwriter, Pascale Ferran, does

recapture this uniquely English work, and yet she brings a quintessential

French style to the film.The subtleties and intelligence of the screenplay

and the exceptional performance by Marina Hands transport Lady Chatterley

from what could have been a cliché or embarrassment to an objet d’art,

albeit a slow and imperfect one.

Here is an irreverent plot summary that I doodled during the dull first hour

of the film:

lady chatterleyClick Here

Beverly Berning has recently begun her fourth career as a high school teacher of French and Italian, but her love of film remains steadfast. A former film student who aspired to be just like her idols Woody Allen, Erik Rohmer and Charlie Kaufman, she has been writing reviews for Culturevulture since 2006.