• Lady Chatterley's Lover

    Released by: Olive Films
    Released on: February 17th, 2015
    Director: Just Jaeckin
    Cast: Sylvia Kristel, Shane Briant, Nicholas Clay, Ann Mitchell, Elizabeth Spriggs, Pascale Rivault
    Year: 1981
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    The Movie:
    Based on the previously banned novel by D.H. Lawrence of the same title, Lady Chatterley’s Lover explores on the big screen the story of eroticism and lust that marks an important moment of the sexual revolution in the United States. Director Just Jaeckin is in familiar territory, in line with other works such as Emmanuelle and Histoire d’O; however, this film reads as a mysterious blip on the radar of Cannon Films, whose releases at the time consisted mostly of action films. Yet despite it’s being seemingly doomed for failure and it’s poor reception, this film deserves this Blu-ray release and shines through effortlessly.

    The story begins with new bride, Lady Constance Chatterley (Sylvia Kristel, Emmanuelle herself) getting a taste of what life is to be as a wife. There is a grand party at the residence of her and her husband Sir Clifford Chatterley (Shane Briant), and she is at the epicenter of admiration as she is paraded about. The party is abruptly cut into by the news of England’s entry into war with Germany, and Clifford leaves his young wife to join the mission. He is injured and left paralyzed, and after a short recovery in a war hospital he returns home to Constance.

    The young wife is now faced with the reality of what being married to a man that is paralyzed from the waist down will be like. Instead of parties, Lady Chatterley pushes her husband from room to room in his wheelchair. Instead of romantic evenings, she helps him dress for bed before retiring to her own room. The physical distance bleeds way into emotional distance as well, and Constance feels her youth and vigor slipping away from her.

    Clifford proposes to Constance that she could take a lover on the side, knowing he must do something to keep her occupied and happy. The lady of the house gives it little thought until she happens upon the groundskeeper, Oliver Mellors (Nicholas Clay), bathing in the woods. Awakened in her is a passion that she never knew before, and thus begins an illicit affair between the two, separated by class distinctions with seemingly un-crossable boundaries. However, this is not the affair that Clifford had in mind for his young bride, and the married couple is faced with more trouble than they bargained for.

    The film plays out nicely, with Briant and Kristel giving nuanced, believable performances of the unlikely lovers. The story develops a bit slow at times, and the character of Clifford is impossible to grapple with. In fact, he may be the least sympathetic portrayal of a paraplegic possible. The sex scenes feel organic and are effective, not hokey, for the most part, but unfortunately fall victim to some awkward moments that are almost comical. The film is trying hard to be taken seriously, and it shows a certain restraint that one would not automatically think would come with such an explicit tale.

    This Blu-ray release is presented in an AVC encoded 1080p transfer, in 1.85:1. It translates remarkably well, with a nice heavy grain throughout and only minor issues with scratches and dirt. The colors are a bit muted throughout, but there is some nice detail to be seen in close-up shots. Shadowy scenes are a bit hard to distinguish at times, but nothing distractingly so. The stylistic choice of Jaeckin for a sort of hazy, soft filter on the film works for the ambience, but works against clarity from time to time.

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track, with little issues to find here. The dubbing is well done with only one or two noticeable slips, and dialogue clear. The score to the movie is a bit overwrought at moments, but presented and supported well by the mix.

    There are no extras on this Blu-ray disc.

    Bottom Line
    While a bit more romantic both visually and in story choice than one might anticipate, Lady Chatterley’s Lover delivers in a very unexpected way. Fans of the Emmanuelle films will be excited for the renewed pairing of Jaeckin and Kristel; however, the sex scenes here are less racy than the reputation of the book would imply. All in all, I definitely recommend checking out this depiction of an important novel of the 20th century.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!