Lady Chatterley Pascale Ferran

Lady Chatterley Pascale Ferran

This is a French adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s lesser-known second version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and it’s 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, it’s 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 Coullo’ch) and starts the passionate affair that so annoyed censors of the author’s 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 can’t 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 Coullo’ch, the latter of whom is far from a stereotypical choice for the role.

I’m not sure the movie reads enough into the story, and it’s disappointing to find that the political dimensions of the tale are annoyingly switched off. But it’s still an intelligently (if not brilliantly) made film that won’t leave you feeling at all cheated or unduly insulted. (Seville)