Mike Kueber's Blog

June 15, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #33 – Lady Chatterley

Filed under: Book reviews — Mike Kueber @ 1:57 am
Tags: ,

Saturday Night at the Movies came early this week as I was ensconced in the spacious back seat of my son Tommy’s car during a long road trip to North Dakota.  What’s an enjoyable way to spend that time?  How about finishing an awesome book – Coming Apart – and viewing a superlative movie – Lady Chatterley.

According to the Netflix jacket, Lady Chatterley is the second, less well-known version of D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”  What was I thinking?  Let’s call it serendipity because this 2006 French version was excellente. 

The plot involves a beautiful, young aristocrat (Marina Hands) whose husband (Hippolyte Giradot) was paralyzed in WWI.  While she remains a dutiful and affectionate wife on their expansive estate, she also drifts into an affair with the estate’s gamekeeper (Jean-Louis Coull’ch), someone who her husband disparages as an uncouth recluse.  Although the aristocrats seem moral and proper, they do have a brief discussion about the possibility of her getting impregnated by some proper English gentleman so that the couple can have a family.   

Much of the movie focuses on the illicit sex.  The affair begins as a purely physical matter, with almost no conversation.  Both the wife and the gamekeeper are obviously in uncharted territory because they are completely unskilled at sexual intercourse, yet they are supremely satisfied with it.  And over time, however, they become much more practiced and their satisfaction increases. 

As I watched the couple increasingly connect physically, I kept thinking that this was not a soulmate movie because you can’t be genuine soulmates with a strong, silent type.  Later in the movie, the couple actually started communicating (non-physically), with each other and they developed an emotional connection based on the gamekeeper’s gentleness, which I hadn’t noticed earlier (the book actually had a working title of “Tenderness.”)  But they never have the sort of in-depth communication that I think is essential for soulmates, so in the end I think they both need to keep looking.  The movie and Marina Hands won the French-version Academy Awards – Cesar Awards. 

Rotten Tomato critics gave Lady Chatterley 75% approval, but its audience gave it only 59%.  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie – the story and the acting.  The three stars are flawed, yet likeable, especially the leading lady.  I give it four stars out of four.  I liked the story so much, I think I will read the 1928 book.

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