Bored and unfulfilled in her marriage to a war veteran, Lady Constance Chatterley (Emma Corinne) becomes involved in a sensual affair with Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell). Soon, however, class differences and Constance’s troublesome husband put their love in jeopardy.
D.H. Lawrence’s famous 1928 novel about an upper-class woman who fulfills her desires with a working-class groundskeeper is perhaps best known for her inhibitions. It took until 1960 for the first uncensored edition of the book to be published in the UK, due to lavish descriptions of sex and the use of certain words that could not be mentioned. This had to reckon with film adaptations, of which there have been many — how faithfully do we translate the ardent, raw desire between Constance Chatterley and her lover, Oliver Mellors, to the screen in a way worthy of such a groundbreaking work of twentieth-century fiction?
French director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre.mustang) She steps onto the plate with exquisite poise and an eye for action in her new version of Lady Chatterley’s lover for Netflix. What began as fairly mediocre dramatic fare is quickly spun off by stars Emma Corrin and Jack O’Connell, as enticing and controlling as Chatterley and Mellors respectively, as their chemistry floods the screen. Their happiness with and for each other is portrayed as something of a folklore, quasi-Bacchanalis, as they dance naked in happy forests and meadows.
Its often amazing performances and visuals help elevate it from being an overly sober drama.
While this is beautiful, elegantly shot by DoP Benoît Delhomme, it sometimes lacks the hot blood needed for the thrilling heart of the story. There is a grotesque, almost agonizing sickness to some of the images that serves to reflect Chatterley’s loneliness and loss of a sense of self, but the ferocity of the sex scenes with the Mellors isn’t strong enough to bring things back to a fiery warmth.
The genre’s traditional structures—beautiful costumes, verdant locations, and traditional plotting—are all present in the film, which doesn’t attempt to venture far outside these boundaries. It’s not radical action, but his performances and his often striking imagery help elevate it away from being a very sober drama.
An all-encompassing romantic take on the DH Lawrence classic that, while it doesn’t offer anything revolutionary for the period drama genre, is satiating and heartwarming.