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12.19.07

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Lady Chatterley

Kino Video; $29.95


In three versions of his novel, D.H. Lawrence tried to combat English prudery with a pastoral vision of love with the story of a cross-class affair between titled Constance and gamekeeper Mellors. Director Pascale Ferran adapts John Thomas and Lady Jane, the least known of the three versions. As played by Jean-Louis Coulloc'h, Oliver Parkin—the mild-tempered divorced gamekeeper—bears almost no resemblance to the studly Mellors. Ferran has stripped the Englishness from this account. Gone, too, is something fragrant: the Northern English dialect that proved that Constance Chatterley (Marina Hands) and her lover were literally speaking different languages. The film won a scad of French Academy Awards—one of them for costuming, which sounds like a joke (unless nudity is the best clothing). It would be a joke, except that Constance wears vixenish hunter's reds and scarlet velvet, matched with the golden reds of the woods, Lady Chatterley is probably the best fall-colored movie since the rousse Rene Russo starred in the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. This is a woman's film, so most of the sexuality takes place in the faces, not in the bodies. And it finishes on a precise moment of realized happiness. It's the way one wants an affair to close if it is closing: with sad satisfaction and no guilt. The minimal extras include the English and French trailers and a photo gallery. (Richard von Busack)


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