Here's Another Film for Your Ten-Best Lists

No, it's not the Kaurismaki (hey, I didn't lie, I just haven't told the truth; I was thinking of a job with the Bush administration).

Joking aside, Pascale Ferran's Lady Chatterley opens today in NYC, and it is an absolute must. When it played at Tribeca I wrote this:

Where has Pascale Ferran been for the last ten years? Her first feature, Petits arrangements avec les morts, was a wonder, her second, L’Âge des possibles,, I remember as something of a disappointment, but I’d be lying if I said I could remember anything more specific about it. Then she vanished from the radar here. She has a 1997 screenplay credit, Eat Your Soup, directed by Mathieu Amalric, then nine years of silence. So it was with as much wonder as anticipation that I awaited her new film Lady Chatterley, which had already won five Cesars including Best French Film and Best Actress for Marina Hands in the title role. More significantly, the reviews were uniformly enthusiastic and I have to admit that the mere fact of that silence aroused my curiosity deeply.

I am happy to say that the wait was worth it inasmuch as the film is one of the best of the year to date, a really lovely, thoughtful and intelligent adaptation of Lawrence, based more on the second version of the novel, John Thomas and Lady Jane, than on the final one. Stripped of the verbosity of the latter, the film is constructed brilliantly as a dialogue between humanity and nature, with the passage of the seasons echoing the growing relationship between Parkin and Connie Chatterley. Intriguingly, Ferran’s version of the story is surprisingly sweet and almost chaste. We do not see the two lovers naked together until two hours into the film (which runs 168 minutes, although you’d never know it because the pacing is so adroit). Hands is quite fetching and her Connie sets the tone for the entire film, slowly blossoming and completely enchanting. And by forgoing much of the Lawrentian attitudinizing, Ferran moves the film away from his more absurd sex-and-blood-and-soil maunderings into something almost Wordsworthian in its natural ease and grandeur.

The film is playing at the Lincoln Plaza (
Broadway between 62nd and 63rd; 212-757-2280); by all means go.

And I promise to get to the Kaurismaki this weekend.
No, really.

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