For those a little older, the first association when the name of Mrs. Chatterlay is mentioned is certainly Sylvia Kristel. The Dutch woman who became famous with the erotic series “Emmanuelle” joined forces again in the early eighties with the French director Justa Jaeckin for another soft porn, based on the romance-erotic novel of the same name by the British DH Lawrence. When the novel “Lady Chatterlay’s Lover” was published in the late twenties of the last century, it was banned in many countries due to obscenity, and its integral version was published in Great Britain only in 1960.
That lover shocked the then standard conservative and equally hypocritical British literary scene with a rather explicit description of the forbidden love between a young aristocrat and an ordinary worker. Times have changed quite a bit today and it’s hard to even film anything that could shock the average movie consumer because there’s practically nothing we haven’t seen. French actress Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, who made her debut as a screenwriter and director three years earlier with the high-quality drama “Mustang” filmed in America, took on the somewhat thankless task of a new adaptation of a more or less well-known story. And once again she decided for a modernist approach to processing this already classic story, and her “Lady Chatterlay’s Lover” works as an interesting mix of classic and modern style.
There are a lot of shots taken with a hand-held camera, and quite a restless one, just like the young Mrs. Chatterlay whose husband, Baron Clifford Chatterlay, returned from the First World War amputated from the waist down. And while he is a typical British hung and idle aristocrat of his time, who is an extremely rich landowner, young Connie (Emma Corrin) comes from some London middle class. When Cifford returns home from the war bereft and impotent, he will suggest to his young wife that she find a lover who will help her conceive a child and continue the family line. The young beautiful lady will take her husband’s words very seriously, but instead of some aristocratic bum, she will choose the gamekeeper of her husband’s estate, also war veteran Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell), who was left by his wife while he was fighting in the French trenches.
And it will be one of those fatal romances in which the director also quite explicitly shows their love and hiding in huts, pastures and meadows. Of course Connie’s long walks around the estate will soon attract many suspicious glances, and this eroticized period drama set in those typically beautiful and green British manors is still at its core a story of rebellion. About the rebellion of a young woman aware of her sexuality and feelings against that sleazy conservative spirit and hypocritical society in which it is completely normal for the lord to freely fuck everything that walks on the estate, but when a woman does it, then it is scandalous. It is the rebellion of a young woman who no longer wants to live in that golden cage in which she seemingly has everything, but in fact she does not have what she wants most – freedom.