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Film Reviews A passionate visual banquet, "Lady Chatterley" is a film to be savored. Film News And Views - Film Reviews - A passionate visual banquet, "Lady Chatterley" is a film to be savored. Film Reviews,,A passionate visual banquet,"Lady Chatterley" is a film to be savored.,recommendation,shopping,advice,simple,movies,films,film news and views,news and views,film industy,movie reviews,film news,film,news,views,television,made for tv movies,interactive entertainment,hollywood,hollywood news,celebrity news,insiders perspective,film reviewer,watch film,film trailer,new releases,new release,new release movie,new release film,movie reviewer,opinion,viewpoint,forum,discussion
A passionate visual banquet, "Lady Chatterley" is a film to be savored.

by Erik Sean McGiven on Jul 03, 2007

A passionate visual banquet, "Lady Chatterley" is a film to be savored.

<>Co-writer and director Pascale Ferran's passionate visual banquet about a whirlwind affair between an aristocratic lady and her husband's gamekeeper is a film to be savored. This sensible and sensitive transformation of DH Lawrence's scandalous book is a joyous declaration about love and the journey it takes traveling from shattered lives to rebirth. <> 

Set in England's Midlands a few years after World War I, the film opens with Sir Clifford Chatterley (Hippolyte Girardot) and his buddies graphically discussing their gruesome battlefield experiences.  It's a matter of fact discussion detached of feeling.  Then ironically Clifford, seating in an easy chair, is lifted onto his wheelchair.  A crippled veteran (and super-wealthy owner of a coal mine), he's paralyzed from the waist down and thus impotent.  His young wife, Lady Constance Chatterley (Marina Hands) nurses and baths him but soon becomes depressed, worn down by her lonely tedious days.  Her wealthy sister Hilda (Helene Fillieres) convinces her to see a doctor.  When he finds nothing physically wrong he suggests a change of scenery and that she become more active.   <> 
After much coaxing Constance finally agrees to hire a full-time nurse for her paraplegic husband. Mrs. Bolton (Helene Alexandridis), a widower, looks after him in a professional manner.  When Constance is assured he is in good hands she begins taking walks on the estate's spacious grounds and comes upon the hut of Oliver Parkin (Jean-Louis Coulloc'h), the gamekeeper.  The sight of him washing his bare chest arouses feelings that literally take her breath away.  From this point on, Constance finds herself on a journey exploring and awakening her erotic desires.  <> 

An affair between an aristocratic lady and a gamekeeper was flagrantly scandalous in the 1920's England, not only because it was adulterous, but also because of it was with a commoner and a servant at that.  In social circles class fraternization was considered more egregious than infidelity.  And that says a lot about Lady Chatterley's character.  She saw all mankind as equals and instead of ordering servants about she took part in household duties.  <> 

Parkin and Connie, as he came to call her, set off on a cautious relationship that slowly grows from an innocent touch to a full sexual coupling.  We know they will fall in love and it's not when or how that's important.  What's enjoyable about this movie is being there, involved in their passion as it blossoms, subsides, and then rekindles.  Love is the music in this story playing against the rustic background of an untouched forest.  These scene-setting shots of nature; rustling leaves, flowers in a field, drifting clouds, all symbolize the triumph of physicality over intellectualism.  It is a wonderful playground for their sensual adventures, safe and supportive.

This drama unfolds slowly and tenderly touching the heart. Some may object to the slow tempo and bloated 168-minutes running time, but when one commits to the emotional journey rather than the informational one, the film moves along at a welcome pace.

In drama as in life, emotions are huge cumbersome things and, unlike the informational aspects, they lack the agility to rapidly change direction.  Even after the impetus is gone, a residue lingers and has strong dramatic implications.  This is what director Pascale Ferran had in mind when she chose a more tranquil pace so that these subtle reverberations could be appreciated.  Filmgoers brought up on action/plot driven movies might resent this approach.  They have become addicted to asking, "What's going to happen next," as opposed to experiencing the character's inner turmoil and emotional roller coaster ride. 

<>There are six physical love scenes in "Lady Chatterley" and each one is an integral part of the narrative.  Each scene is a new experience for Constance and reveals the couple's respective interior lives as they graduate from fully clothed fumbles behind closed doors to more torrid, exploratory alfresco sessions.  As they progress, they unfold new meanings, each more fascinating than the last.  In the final one, the lovers frolic naked (but with shoes on) in a downpour and then exhausted, couple in the mud with the rain pelting down on their bodies. There is a liberating feeling to these scenes as these two characters transform and invent a new life for themselves. <> 

Marina Hands, (The Barbarian Invasions) as the warm-hearted inquisitive Constance delivers a beautiful translucent performance, almost child-like as she grows to emotional and moral maturity.  In this star making role, her ability to relate the inner voice is magical.  Jean Louis Coulloc'h, a newcomer to film, develop his craft as a respected stage actor.  He plays the burly, virile and guarded gamekeeper with resigned melancholy and presents a serious advisory to Hands's demure and determined pursuits. The depth and story trajectory of his portrayal is pitch perfect as the illicit lover. <> 

Girardot's Sir Chatterley provides us with a harsh reminder of war and how it shatters what might have been.  His portrayal as a proud but vulnerable member of the ruling class is admirable and provides the catalyst that drives the story.  Unmanned by war injuries he compensated for his disability by grimly running the family's mines.  One of the more memorable moments is when his motorized new wheelchair stalls on a forest incline and he refuses to call for assistance.  Fillieres as Constance's sister and Alexandridis as the nurse nicely fill out the highly professional cast with well-crafted performances.  <>

The screenplay by Pascal Ferran, Roger Bohbot, and Pierre Trividic from the book "John Thomas and Lady Jane" by DH Lawrence is intelligent and tasteful, even while being sexually frank.  Julien Hirsch's exquisite cinematography paints both the physical and sensual aspects as we discover the vibrant beauty of nature.  Ferran's direction brings to the screen a lyrical and enchanting film, and with its vision and fine acting, it campaigns to liberate repressed thoughts and feelings about love, intimacy and sex.   And in this age of social restraint and puritanical correctness, this is a very subversive film, for it suggests that we relate not only with one another but also with ourselves.  <> 

In French, with English subtitles.  Running time: 168.  Not rated (sex, full-frontal nudity)

 

 

 

 

 

  March 20, 2019

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