Netflix film “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, which was released early in this month, is more sensitive and thoughtful than you might expect. Based on that famous classic novel of the same name by D. H. Lawrence, the movie surely provides enough sensuality and eroticism as expected, but it also focuses a lot on the mood and emotions around its two main characters, and the overall result is often interesting as really delving into those tricky matters of heart between them.
At the beginning, the story begins with its young heroine’s supposedly happy marriage with her wealthy husband in the middle of the World War I. Although her husband, Sir Clifford Chatterley (Matthew Duckett), will soon go to the front line as a military officer, Constance (Emma Corrin) is still excited because her husband feels like someone she can love for the rest of her life, and it looks like nothing can possibly go wrong for them despite the ongoing war.
Unfortunately, the situation is subsequently changed a lot when Lord Chatterley returns with a serious physical injury. Besides not being able to walk any more, he is now sexually impotent, and that certainly frustrates Constance a lot right from when they have their first night in his big family manor. As he starts to concentrate on writing a novel, she assists his writing process while constantly taking care of him, but, despite her sincere affection toward him, there comes a point where she cannot stand their isolated status anymore.
Eventually, her older sister comes to the rescue, and Constance finally can take some rest outside the manor while her husband is being taken care of by Mrs. Bolton (Joely Richardson), an old widow who once worked in the manor. She eventually befriends the newly hired gamekeeper of the manor, and it does not take much time for her to find herself quite attracted to this handsome lad. Although he is rather quiet and taciturn on the surface, Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell) turns out to be an intelligent and sensitive guy, and Constance becomes more fascinated with him as they often meet each other in a little cabin in the forest outside the manor.
As a matter of fact, there is really nothing which can restrain Constance’s growing interest and passion toward Oliver, because her husband already allowed that she can have a secret sexual affair behind her back just for having a son who will inherit his title as well as his wealth. Although she was rather hesitant about her husband’s suggestion, Constance eventually comes to follow whatever her heart feels at one point later in the story, and Oliver cannot say no because, well, the feelings between them turn out to be quite mutual.
As they heedlessly throw themselves into their carnal passion along the story, the movie surely presents a considerable amount of sex and nudity on the screen, but director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, who previously made a feature film debut in “The Mustang” (2019), and her crew members including cinematographer Benoît Delhomme handle these sexual moments with enough sensitivity and lyricism. As surrounded by the vivid sights of nature, the two lovers are excited by not only their passion but also their freedom, and there is a lovely rainy scene where they get themselves completely naked and then freely roam outside together as feeling more love between them.
Of course, the circumstance becomes more complicated when Constance and Oliver become more aware of how tricky their respective positions are. Although his wife left him several years ago, Oliver still cannot get a divorce due to her selfish reason. As loving Olivier more and more, Constance actually begins to consider leave her husband, but she knows too well that she may lose everything in her life as a result. Her husband becomes more distant and less understanding as he comes to pay more attention to the local coal mining business instead of his writing, and he prefers to maintain the status quo between them without asking too much about the baby she may have sooner or later. Even her older sister reminds her of that cold and harsh reality, when she later comes to learn more about her ongoing affair with Oliver.
As the story is heading toward the expected finale, the screenplay by David Magee stays focused on the emotional details of its main characters, and Emma Corrin and Jack O’Connell ably embody and express these fine character details to be appreciated. while Corrin, who recently drew our attention for her Emmy-nominated turn in the fourth season of Netflix drama series “The Crown”, wonderfully illustrates her character’s growing longing and passion along the story, O’Connell, who has steadily advanced since his breakout performance in “Starred up” (2013), deftly complements his co-star with his equally good performance, and their good chemistry on the screen is one of the main reasons why the movie works on the emotional level instead of merely scratching its carnal surface. Around Corrin and Jack O’Connell, several substantial supporting performers including Matthew Duckett, Joely Richardson, Ella Hunt, and Faye Marsay are also solid on the hole, and Richardson’s supporting performance feels particularly resonant, considering she once played Lady Chatterley herself in the 1993 BBC TV serial.
Overall, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is fairly engaging in terms of mood, storytelling, and performance, and it makes me more interested in reading the works of Lawrence (Full Disclosure: I still have not touched any of them even though I bought the Penguin paperback editions of three novels of his several years ago). In short, this is one of more entertaining offerings from Netflix during this year, and I sincerely recommend you to check it out during your spare time.