Then one day Constance marches through the woods to place an order for fresh pheasant with Oliver Parkin (Jean-Louis Coulloc'h), Clifford's gameskeeper. Parkin isn't young " he may even be older than Clifford " and he isn't conventionally handsome. He looks a bit like Marlon Brando at the dawn of middle-age. His large round face is creased and fleshy, and he's losing his hair. But he has a rugged manliness that stands in utter contrast to Clifford's delicate features. And as it happens, Constance first lays eyes on him when he's standing before a water pump with his shirt off giving himself a vigorous washing after a hot day of attending to whatever sweaty duties gameskeepers attend to. Constance doesn't quite roll her eyes and hyperventilate, but her yearning stare is 100 percent walla walla bing bang. And so the game is on.
Pretty soon Constance is stripping in front of her bedroom mirror and giving herself a sensuous ogle, showing her Lady Jane and yearning, presumably for a glimpse of Parkin's John Thomas. And we'll get there, but in a series of steps rather than one quick jump. Constance and Parkin work together over the nurturing of plants and animals until they fall into each other's arms and over time into a wild, naked cavort in a driving rainstorm culminating in a carnally ecstatic wallow in the mud.
The point, obviously, is that sex is natural and ought to be liberated from the kind of crimp exemplified in the Chatterleys' two-bedroom marriage. In service of this celebration of nature, Ferran includes repeated shots of cobalt skyscapes dotted with fleecy clouds, pristine streams gurgling through verdant meadows and flower after flower bursting into bloom. Much of this is objectively beautiful, but the strategy of including such shots and in such plenitude serves to lengthen the running time to more than two hours and 40 minutes, a burden the film's thin spine of narrative can't satisfactorily bear. The metaphor could have been effectively established with much greater economy. Moreover, Ferran repeatedly holds shots long after the viewing eye has digested all of the image's narrative information.
Lady Chatterley has been an artistic smash in France, garnering nine Cesar nominations and winning in five categories, including best picture and best actress. Hands' work is entirely deserving and everywhere convincing, her character's awakening to the pleasures of sexual intimacy recalling that of a child's discovery of chocolate. Coulloc'h did not carry home the Cesar, but he is excellent, too, artfully portraying a necessarily restrained man of the earth who is natural in his own body but out of his element in dealing with a woman of Constance's class. Lawrence, of course, was as much interested in the latter as the former. But here the gulf of differences between Constance and Parvin takes second place to slowly peeled stockings, the revealed female thigh and the moans of human lovemaking.
- Kino International
- Lady Chatterley bags the gameskeeper in D. H. Lawrence's scandalous classic.