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LADY CHATTERLEY

Director: PASCALE FERRAN

FRANCE • 2006 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 168 MIN


GALLIC AND ANGLO-SAXON NOTIONS OF SEX COLLIDE TO PIQUANT, ULTIMATELY ECSTATIC EFFECT IN THIS AWARD WINNING FRENCH ADAPTATION OF D. H. LAWRENCE.
Actually, the film is based on John Thomas and Lady Jane, the writer’s second draft at the story of classbreaching amours (the third version, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, caused the legal storm), but the essence of the drama is the same even if the character names are slightly unfamiliar. Hence it’s Marina Hands’ Lady C, stuck in a chaste marriage after her mine-owner husband (Hippolyte Giradot) is emasculated by a war wound, who finds herself drawn to the estate’s surly gamekeeper Parkin (Jean-Louis Coulloc’h) in a series of encounters which begin with shy looks and glancing contact, but soon escalate into life-changing physical intensity. Although there’s a little adjustment to be made that this very English affair is unfolding in French, director Pascale Ferran’s passionate sincerity easily transcends the language barrier. Although there’s less emphasis on class tensions than in Lawrence, the film renders the transformative potency of sexual communion with a rare combination of earthiness and sensitivity. Though the central couple certainly aren’t name actors, their interplay and body language, insightfully observed, creates a vivid sense of human connection, so strong that it reshapes this aristocratic lady’s perception of herself and her response to the verdant natural world around her. Fully deserving of its Cesar award for last year’s best French film, this is the finest screen Lawrence since Ken Russell’s Women in Love. And, like the best sex, it’s not just erotic, but genuinely emotionally liberating. —Trevor Johnston.

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