Sunday, January 8, 2023

Lady Chatterley's Lover

Movie Name:
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Year of Release: 2022
Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
Starring: Emma Corrin, Jack O'Connell, Matthew Duckett, Joely Richardson, Faye Marsay, Ella Hunt, Anthony Brophy
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Netflix

Synopsis and Review
Another release hailing from Netflix, this is yet another adaptation of the novel by D.H. Lawrence, with the script adaptation this time around coming from the authorship of David Magee, who is well known for his scripts for Marc Forster's "Finding Neverland" and Ang Lee's "Life of Pi", to name but a few. The narrative focuses on the story of Constance/Connie Chatterley whom we first encounter getting married to Sir Clifford Chatterley. He is soon dispatched to war (World War I), where he sustains serious injuries which render him paralyzed. Upon his return, he and Connie move to his family's estate. Their relationship is however fractured, since he is unable to be intimate with her. Connie initially tends to all of Clifford's needs, but eventually and following her sister's intervention, additional help is hired, so that Connie's challenges and pressures subside. In the interim she also ingratiates herself with the population of the county, and becomes aware of the challenges facing the miners who work for her husband. She also becomes acquainted with the game keeper of the family's property, himself someone who returned from War, only to find his wife gone with someone else. They share a sexual tryst, which soon evolves into an amorous affair, which threatens to destroy the relationship Connie has with Clifford.
This particular literary property has seen a fair amount of adaptations before. The most notable one is of course the celebrated "Lady Chatterley" directed by Pascale Ferran, featuring Marina Sands and Jean-Louis Coulloc'h as Constance and the gamekeeper. That film was greeted with great reviews and a plethora of awards, since it managed to portray the relationship between those two characters without sensationalism, but with the right amount of realism and romanticism. This new version from Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, in her sophomore feature directorial effort, isn't necessarily a poorly executed film, as it is more of an easily forgettable one. For all of the ample duration of the film, this adaptation never truly sheds much light as to whom Constance actually is and what she wants out of her life, the same going for Oliver, the initial object of her lust that becomes her romantic lover. While the original novel from D.H. Lawrence trailed his topics of regeneration in relationships, and also issues of class and industrialization, some of these are very lightly touched upon in this adaptation. Ultimately the issue with this adaptation, is the fact that it doesn't really bring a distinct point of view to the material. It's not as hermetically positioned and polished as a Merchant Ivory film, and not as daringly transgressive as the work of say Lars Von Trier or even the feminist & humanist perspectives from Sofia Coppola or Jane Campion. It comes across as a polished made for TV adaptation, one that never truly soars. The cast tries their best with the material, and while Emma Corrin fares fairly well, there's a certain lack of chemistry with both Jack O'Connell and Matthew Duckett (both of which play their characters in a very limited range). The remaining supporting characters have very little opportunity and screen time to make themselves visible, with the always wonderful Joely Richardson being the most underutilized talent of the group (she played Lady Chatterley herself in a Ken Russell directed mini series in the early 1990s). The production team is solid, including the beautiful cinematography from Benoit Delhomme and costume design from Emma Fryer. Watchable but forgettable.