Lady Chatterley’s Lover (2022) Review!!

 

Synopsis – An unhappily married aristocrat begins a torrid affair with the gamekeeper on her husband’s country estate.

My Take – While I usually steer away from romantic dramas, I do a neat enjoy period piece occasionally. But what particularly attracted me to this Netflix release was that it is was based on a notorious and often banned 1928 novel by D. H. Lawrence. A novel which has been accused of obscenity, particularly due to its numerous, exhaustively descriptive sex scenes.

Yet, it got me thinking that there must be something about its content, as since then it been adapted for film and TV repeatedly. For its latest adaptation, director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (The Mustang) and writer David Magee (Finding Neverland, Life of Pi), take up the challenge of bringing a comparatively modern adaptation in order to capture attention that goes wider than just the literary audience who want to see the worlds come to life.

Though a bit uneven for its own good, the film works well enough as a love story. It’s sweet, sexy and manages to keep us glued with a compelling screenplay.

Yes, for a film based on a book that scandalized thousands, it will undoubtedly leave its viewer wanting more. But with the presence of themes such as increasing industrialization, class inequities and sex being a natural act, it proves that author Lawrence‘s work still holds extreme relevance today, resulting in a progressive and engaging adaptation.

It also helps that Emma Corrin is wonderful as the lead Connie and luminously embodies her intelligence, loneliness, craving for love. You just can’t take your eyes off her, which is fortunate because in this adaptation she does have to carry the film.

The story follows Connie Reed (Emma Corrin), a young newlywed who is forced to move out to the Chatterley mansion after her baronet husband, Sir Clifford Chatterley (Matthew Duckett) ends up sustaining wartime injuries. Paralyzed from the waist down during his service in World War I, Clifford is decent enough but like many rich British men of that era, loves things more than he does people. Also, due to the nature of his injury, Clifford requires constant care but would only allow Connie, now called ‘Lady Chatterley’, to help him.

Soon abhorring the isolation of the country manor, and missing the crowded streets and culture of London. Instead spending her days walking and reading on the estate, however, Connie’s life changes when she comes across the newly hired ruggedly handsome Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell). The two have a silent understanding of their desire for a bit of peace and quiet, but soon their bond turns to lust and secret trysts in the woods.

Of course, Connie and Oliver’s love affair is the beating heart of director Clermont-Tonnerre’s film. For its first quarter, the two engage in a delightful, agonizing will-they-won’t-they dance, with Connie’s marital loneliness and craving for partnership drawing her desperately to Oliver, and Oliver’s nonchalance compelling any sane viewer to will Connie to win him over even more. When Connie and Oliver finally consummate their relationship on the floor of the gamekeeper’s hut, it’s hard to not want to let out a little cheer.

Unlike the Fifty Shades of Grey series, this isn’t a film that treats sex as something dirty; it celebrates the physical connection between two people, which ultimately grows into affection and love. And the love scenes between the two are handled well. Vital and believable, with the degree of emotional intimacy between the two making it steamy.

The film also has a lot to say about the feudal nature of the 1920s British society and the place of women in it. It offers a sharp commentary on the modern world, and it is frankly shocking how much the perspectives towards women and their sexual freedom hasn’t changed.

The original story, and thus the film, was smart to portray Clifford not as a monster, but as a product of his class and background. As even in the end, he does not realize what went wrong and why Connie doesn’t want to be a Lady, a title she resents. Visually, the film is quite pleasant to the eyes, and the team has chosen to go with this very naturalistic and rustic look that fits very well into the English countryside.

While, the film is ravishingly photographed, it is unfortunately let down a little by other elements. Writer David Magee’s script takes a little too long to get to the good part. An hour goes by before Oliver and Connie give in to their temptation. This could have been a lot of fun if there was a lot of teasing the audience with their forbidden lust and desire, but that first hour is dreadfully dull.

Plus of course, this story is quite old, which means that there is really nothing here that will surprise you very much in terms of plot. Every single thing this story does, has been taken and done by other books and films countless times. This doesn’t mean that watching isn’t still compelling, but thankfully, the actors are the one true force behind the appeal of this film to new generations of viewers.

Shooting to fame with her role as Princess Diana in Netflix series The Crown, Emma Corrin is wonderful. Appropriately doe-eyed and innocent as Connie, Corrin is absolutely magnetic and lovely which only makes her secret sex affair so much more exciting. Meanwhile, Jack O’Connell plays Oliver with the right balance of powerful and wariness.

Matthew Duckett successfully plays a character that increasingly off-putting and cold, while Joely Richardson, who once played Lady Chatterley herself, makes for a wonderfully warm Mrs Bolton. Faye Marsay and Ella Hunt also leave strong impressions in their supporting roles. On the whole, ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ is a well-acted adaptation that is sexy and charming at the same time.

Directed – 

Starring – Emma Corrin, Jack O’Connell, Joely Richardson

Rated – R

Run Time – 126 minutes

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