Lady Chatterley's Lover (2022)
Updated: Jan 7
I don't think there can be too much of an argument that the British have always been a saucy bunch of perverts in one form or another. When DH Lawrence's novel was released in the UK, finally, in 1960 it sold the entire first print run of 200,000 copies in just the first day. This was practically unheard of, but the shenanigans of Mellor and Lady Chatterley, Constance Reid, was like catnip to even the well-to-do underfumblers.
Today's sensibilities are a good deal more mature these days and the sight of comely ankle is unlikely to get anyone too hot under the collar. The Penguin Obscenity case of 1959 broke whole new ground, allowing the use of vulgarities like 'fuck' and 'cunt' to be judged on literary merit, and by crikey, once the horse bolted there was no stopping it.
Jack O'Connell and, more surprisingly maybe, Emma Corrin take on the heavyweight roles here as Mellor and Constance respectively. I say surprising given Corrin's choice in the real world to be referred to as They/Them rather than She/Her. I wondered how a gender neutral actor would make this character their own. They did fine of course, rutting and thrusting like the best of them, and I feel somewhat sexist even considering it, on reflection. Still, reflect I did.
The overarching mind and body themes that were so prevalent in the book take a lesser place here. At the outset, Constance yearns physically for what she cannot have, and when she eventually gets it, this yearning morphs into something that most see as perfectly normal - fulfilment of body and mind being what a soul needs. Here that simple love story starts in a lustful, incendiary fashion, but soon returns to normality after the period that all new lovers become all too familiar with. The question of availability and opportunity are not touched on here or in the book and whether she was just 'making do' with Mellor is a topic that will never be answered.
As a companion piece, the book and this film are too far removed and this is highlighted by the ending, providing a more satisfying outcome rather than the ambiguity of the original text. It appears authentic enough, the acting is fine if never challenging and the pacing just the wrong side of slow. Not one for the purists, I imagine, as this has been told better both on and off the screen before now.