12.13.2007

Lady Chatterley


Unfortunately, despite some wonderful shots and an great, layered and open performance at the center, Lady Chatterley (Ferran, 2006) is a messy, messy film. The film is fragmented, moved in strange bursts. An omniscient narrator suddenly comments in voice-over, saying about 4 lines, an hour into the movie, and only comes back once for a longer stretch of text. Near the end, a character suddenly read out a letter looking into the camera. None of it has any specific reason, and none of it makes sense.

Ah, but of course, for a film based on Lawrences book, it's not about the structure, the main question is: how are the sex scenes? And I have to admit, the sex scenes here are perfect, both erotic and providing insight into the characters and their evolution. Be warned: this is explicit, and much is shown both of the female and male anatomy, although the early sex scenes take place almost fully clothes (let's just say garters are convenient). But it never feels exploitative, and starts feeling almost natural.

However, then we come to the ending, and it's simply awful. The characters suddenly start communicating with words rather than actions, and their words couldn't be blander and unlikely. The gamekeeper especially is suddenly revealed to have a sensitive side. He suddenly confesses to be all angsty over being unlike other people, and his sudden "sharing", according to the idea there currently seems to be about the ideal man, is both entirely out of character and boring, almost negating all the good that came before.

9 comments:

cjKennedy said...

Why oh why can they never seem to make a movie that is great on its own but also delivers great sex scenes? It seems like it should be soooo easy, but they never get it right.

Annoying.

Hedwig said...

It IS hard to come up with one. I think the closest anyone's come is probably Last Tango, but there is one sex scene in there in particular that I never, ever, want to see again.

cjKennedy said...

Does it have anything to do with butter...?

Hedwig said...

Yes, yes indeed it does...

Kaj said...

What about Don't Look Now? Or A History Of Violence?

Hedwig said...

Ah, agreed, both of those ave character-driven, beautifully filmed, functional sex scenes AND are great movies, but they're hardly films about sex, which I think is what Craig meant...

cjKennedy said...

Ebert has some interesting thoughts on Last Tango and eroticism in general in his Great Movies review of Tango.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20040815%2FREVIEWS08%2F408150301%2F1023

"Although pornography documents the impersonal mechanics of sex, few serious films challenge actors to explore its human dimensions; isn't it remarkable that no film since 1972 has been more sexually intimate, revealing, honest and transgressive than Last Tango?"

For the record, I thought Bertolucci's The Dreamers was interesting and also beautiful and sexy. Not a perfect movie I suppose, but something about it clicked for me.

Perhaps it played into my romanticized ideal of Paris and the '60s and cinema.

Nothing wrong with that, right?

Hedwig said...

I know exactly what you mean. I thought of mentioning the Dreamers myself. The thing is, I know it's not a good film: it's thematically messy, it's plot goes nowhere, it really doesn't add up to anything. However, it does play right into my strange nostalgia for 1968, especially for Paris in 1968, a 'strange' nostalgia because it's my parents who were teenagers/students in that time: it's nostalgia for a time where I've never been. So yeah, I love it, and have seen it three or four times (the first time in the cinema with my parents)

I would argue, though, that regardless of how integral to the plot and well-filmed the sex scenes are, and despite the undeniable beauty of the leads, the sex scenes are more fascinating than truly erotic. But maybe that's just me. Whether something is erotic is, after all, very, very personal.

cjKennedy said...

You know, I wouldn't even say it wasn't a good film. No, it doesn't play by the rules that films we consider good play by, but damnit it works.

It strikes me as sort of an old man's fever dream of a remembered past.

I see what you're saying about how the sex scenes weren't exactly erotic however. I think the impossibly sexy Eva Green just makes me remember them that way, but when I think about their content, not so much.

Speaking of sex in movies, have you seen Lust, Caution?

Erotic isn't a word I'd use, though definitely pretty graphic. THey're interesting though in that the scenes are integral to the film, when often sex seems feel like window dressing.