“I’ve thought a lot about what you said at the wedding — that I open my heart too easily. That may have been true before the war but I don’t think it is any longer.”


D.H. Lawrence’s once-outrageous novel has been the subject of numerous turgid adaptations that are typically derailed by their focus on titillation or scandalous romance, both aspects seem tame by modern standards. The latest version, from director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, takes a broader approach to the material, which some see as Lawrence exploring what it takes to make a person feel whole, in contrast to the prevailing view that the upper class required only intellectual gratification whilst the lower class were subject to baser desires. We see parallels in Connie and the gameskeeper Oliver, both of whom read to fill the void left by unfulfilling marriages, and a book marks the fracturing of their relationship. There is a clear power disparity when the literate commoner catches her eye as Oliver lives on her estate (“they’re yours,” he points out when she initially declines to take flowers from his garden), and those looking for a deep romance may find themselves disappointed. Lady Chatterley’s Lover does not shy away from nudity, but in its most intimate scenes the camera’s focus is on faces and reactions, during and afterward. Emma Corrin, who rose to prominence for her portrayal of Princess Diana in The Crown, calls to mind Keira Knightley’s period roles in a layered performance as a woman struggling with loneliness and desire whilst her privilege makes her careless though not unkind. The morality of infidelity is avoided entirely since Clifford Chatterley is content to procure an heir through Connie having an affair, and his attitude towards the less privileged is contemptible. Instead, the film’s concern — the conundrum which faces Connie and worries her family — is what course of action will allow her to feel complete and fulfilled.