A double take on Pascale Ferran’s Lady Chatterley this week:
“Ferran takes great pains to film nature in all its verdant glory, yet it’s a mere accounting; in a recent New York Times article she cites Apichatpong Weerasethakul as an influence in depicting the eroticism of nature, but despite some poignant night photography her dry, static shots of flowers, copses, and trees only minimally fulfill the “awakening of the senses” requirement and never achieve the hypnotic spell of the Thai filmmaker’s transcendence. As for the sex scenes, Ferran directs them with a serviceable integrity, both to Lawrence’s material and to the rhythms and motions of her actors, and she rightly refuses to shy away from the unapologetic human aspects of the realm of flesh, such as Lady Chatterley’s bewildered, unorgasmic shock as she finds herself beneath the strange man, as well as a direct look at an erect penis. But Ferran’s slavish fidelity to the sillier elements of Lawrence’s novel is disastrous. The running naked in the rain, the flowers in pubic hair—they’re Lawrence’s utopian ideal of sex as interpreted via the safe iconography of the sexual revolution Lawrence portended but looked far past. The fact that Hands and Coulloc’h play their scenes without the searching, improvising-on-the-spot nervousness of real sexual contact suggests that in Lady Chatterley sex isn’t a holy ritual of renewed blood, as it is for Lawrence, but a brief forestial vacation.”
Click here to read the rest of RS staff writer Michael Joshua Rowin’s review of Lady Chatterley on Reverse Shot.
“Showered with Cesar awards in its native France, Pascale Ferran’s Lady Chatterley faces a more uncertain fate stateside (Gallic awards committees can’t resist a pretty woman in a field of sun-kissed wildflowers; just ask Claude Berri). Though based on a version of D.H. Lawrence’s long-banned, “pornographic” final novel, it’s too restive and restrained to draw in the blithe, shock-hungry Terry Richardson/9 Songs contingent, too explicit for the AARP-discount crowd looking for a period romance that’ll act as a soothing tonic — and as for American critics, there’s never any shortage of twits eager to reenact the aesthetic skirmishes of fifty years past, “daring” to fatuously sneer at the sight of a petticoat.
It’s a work that deserves more consideration, though it’s worth asking: Why another film of Lady Chatterley now? Lawrence’s story has been brought to the screen several times already — Lady Constance Chatterley (here played the half-British actress Marina Hands), neglected by her war-shattered, impotent husband, blows aside all social protocol to surrender to the caresses of their estate’s groundskeeper (a brusque Jean-Louis Coulloc’h). The answer: Regeneration through sex, in response to a world tormented by violence and class disparity, is a more relevant, and better, idea than most movies manage.”
Click here to read the rest of RS staff writer Nick Pinkerton’s review of Lady Chatterley on indieWIRE.