Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Marina Hands, Jean-Louis Coulloc'h, Hippolyte Girardot, Helene Alexadridis, Helene Fillieres
Written by: Pascale Ferran, Roger Bohbot, based on a novel by D.H. Lawrence
Directed by: Pascale Ferran
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 161
Date: 11/01/2006
IMDB

Lady Chatterley (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Novel Affair

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Pascale Ferran's lovely, 161-minute adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's 1928 novel moves with its own unique rhythm. Ferran uses luxurious, long takes to explore the emotional moments between the characters, but also uses a kind of rushed, clipped editing to bring these scenes to an end. It works; the effect is like rowing a boat across a still lake. (One reviewer suggested that the film was originally made for television, but I have been unable to confirm this.) It's based not on the original Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), but on the lesser-known second version, John Thomas and Lady Jane. Marina Hands (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) stars in the title role, and she perfectly commands the camera for the lengthy running time; she's not traditionally beautiful, but she reveals different and unusual layers of beauty throughout. Jean-Louis Coullo'ch -- with a kind of middle-aged Brando-type sexuality -- plays Parkin, her husband's hired gamekeeper, who keeps a remote cabin deep in the family estate. After her husband (Hippolyte Girardot) is wounded in the war -- and presumably rendered impotent -- the good lady goes to the cabin for a bit of peace. Her frequent visits turn into flirting and finally to sex. Their lovemaking starts off grunting and rudimentary and you wonder, is this it? But it gradually turns more into a meeting of spirits, exploratory and playful. The most powerful scene, however, has the husband turning up with a newfangled, power wheelchair. Try as he might, and much to his frustration, it will not climb a hill; he must accept help from the gamekeeper while his wife watches.

DVD Details: Kino released the film in theaters and on DVD in 2007. It played in France in 2006, where it earned mention on the top ten lists of both Cahiers du Cinema and Positif (a rare event). Kino's Region 1 DVD is pretty basic, with a trailer, photo gallery and optional English subtitles, but the film plays marvelously on the small screen (another indication of its TV origins?) with its 1:1.66 aspect ratio.