Synopsis: Robbed of intimacy by her blueblood husband’s war injuries, Constance Chatterly (Marina Handas – The Barbarian Invasions, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly) longs for the emotional fulfillment and physical passion that her marriage lacks. When she espies the gamekeeper Parkin (Jean-Louis Coullo’ch) unselfconsciously bathing, stripped to the waist amidst the beauty of nature, she experiences a sexual awakening unlike anything she has ever dared to desire. Though separated by the boundaries of social convention, rough-hewn Parkin and high-bred Lady Chatterly unite in a love that is simultaneously innocent and erotic, a spiritual connection that transcends personal inhibitions and class prejudices.
Lady Chatterley 6.0
I don’t know if the slow, dull pace of the film is meant to evoke the overall sensation of living Constance Chatterley’s life, but it does look dreadfully boring. Boh-ring. And yet, sometimes, filmmakers find subtle ways of making the lack of onscreen activity appealing…
Not so here; it’s just oozing with nothing.
But this may truly be due to the original story and the lifestyle that Chatterley leads. I haven’t read any of the various versions that D.H. Lawrence wrote, but I’m not inclined to. I have, however, seen three adaptations of the story so far – and I’ve found each one coma-inducing.
I can’t recall the 1981 version so much now, but I felt very little heat between the main players in the 1993 version and this one. I mean, intellectually, I accept the appeal and attraction that the characters hold for each other. But, viscerally, I don’t buy it; something simply doesn’t come off the screen as it should. For me anyway.
And as for the class stuff that’s going on… I find that utterly sans intérêt. That period in classic English literature switches my mind off. So much in the name of class! I understand its significance, culturally, but I don’t find it appealing – if only because it goes counter to my core values (it’s hard to enjoy something about a topic you dislike).
Anyway, all this to say that between the discussion of class which leaves me cold and the onscreen heat which also suspiciously left me cold, it was a lost cause overall.
It is worth noting, however, that the actors they picked looked real, looked the part – there was no glamourization being done here for the audience’s benefit. Kudos for that. Also notable, is how surreal it was to have English-looking people in an English setting all speaking in French – and not be over-dubbed! It felt kind of daft, in a way… but it was admirable.
My main gripe is the editing: how this film won the César with such p!$$-poor editing I simply don’t understand. You keep getting the feeling that there’s missing footage – some scenes begin, end abruptly (complete with aborted music cues in mid-term) and are never completed later.
The reality is that there is missing footage:
The film was also released as a two-part TV movie with an extra 50 mins of character development. It is apparently the director’s preferred cut, because it sustains the original story better.
How this extra footage would splice into the mix I couldn’t tell you, obviously, but I think that it can only be an improvement – if only by not cutting away from scenes abruptly like the cinematic version does. That one was edited with a meat cleaver.
All in all, it’s not a bad film at all. It’s just that its key elements failed to play to my sensitivities. I’m sure some people can enjoy it despite the shoddy editing, but I think I’d recommend getting the full-length version if you’re going to bother seeing it at all. It’s already extremely long; if you’re going to commit, go all the way.