This is a French adaptation of D.H. Lawrences lesser-known second version of Lady Chatterleys Lover and its been getting everything from praise for its artistry to a big raspberry for its Merchant Ivory-ness. For me, the truth lies somewhere in between: though the film lacks a motor and drags on occasion, its certainly credible and undeniably invested in the material.
Marina Hands plays the famed Lady C, married to Clifford (Hippolyte Girardot), who has the disadvantages of being a rapacious capitalist and paralyzed, during WWI. The lady, of course, has better things to do than accept her role as a bird in a gilded cage and so she wanders the grounds, encounters a rough servant named Parkin (Jean-Louis Coulloch) and starts the passionate affair that so annoyed censors of the authors day.
Director Pascale Ferran gets a surprising amount of mileage out of the natural surroundings of the Chatterleys vast grounds and makes you revel in their serene wonder, but she plays the card a little too often and it winds up seeming a tad repetitive. Still, you cant accuse her of being careless: the Bazinian realism of the style is at once sensitive and precise. Though frank, the sex scenes register less as shocking than as gentle, and one feels a real warmth between Hands and Coulloch, the latter of whom is far from a stereotypical choice for the role.
Im not sure the movie reads enough into the story, and its disappointing to find that the political dimensions of the tale are annoyingly switched off. But its still an intelligently (if not brilliantly) made film that wont leave you feeling at all cheated or unduly insulted. (Seville)