I guess you could write all the live-long day about the number of times this D.H. Lawrence novel has been brought to the big screen, the small screen, or the direct-to-DVD screen, but I don't think LADY CHATTERLEY has been given such highbrow treatment before (though I admit I haven't seen the full BBC adaptation, which I hear is quite entertaining). I guess the entertainment industry's love affair with the classic novel enjoys the same lusty high and lows that the mylady does with the gamekeeper! For what it's worth, many others have made much ado about the film's pacing so I'll spare you my quaint concerns on that matter suffice it to say that I think director Pascale Ferran could've trimmed the 40 minute set-up just a wee bit to get to the juicy "first contact" and probably not sacrificed much story. Also, critics have been quick to praise "every frame of the film is bustling with life" (paraphrased), but that's certainly not the case with this DVD release as I found much of the picture quality poor to medium with some of the greenery of Clifford's (her invalid husband) estate to be lost to grain. And the use of colors and costumes (once sexually awakened, Constance Chatterley's fabric of choice seeming goes from flannel and burlap to elegant silky satins freshly colored in Crayola "Harlot Red") could be the source of endless discussion and fascination, but, in the end, any film exploration of the Chatterley affair inevitably always comes down to the matter of how the two lovers get it on.
And these two do get it on quite well. The DVD cover art boasts "the most frankly sensual movie in memory." I've read elsewhere that the coupling is intended to be as close to authentic as possible, and by authentic I can only assume that the critic politely meant to say that it's relatively short, subtle, and mostly not overtly HBO or Cinemax theatrical where the two last for hours only to end up in a huddled poised sweaty sculpturesque mess only fit for Victorian paintings. "Earthy" is a word that comes to mind for me. Their first coupling is awkward -- paced as though it was plucked from reality -- with mylady clearly not quite knowing what to do, what to think, or what to make of the experience while Parkin remains -- at all times -- largely servant-like. Afterwards, neither take a moment to bask in the awakening, per se; largely, they both desire to return to their lives, and it isn't until a few days later that they experience the real emotional awakening that comes from their attachment.
With each successive encounter, these two grow more and more adventurous and expressive until, finally, it's plain to see that they've committed to one another much more than their initial bonding, one that was clearly predicated on their employer/employee relationship. Constance -- at the talents of Marina Hands -- is deftly portrayed both in and out of the sexual experience, and her character becomes a bit more of a mouthpiece for defying the social conventions of the time -- speaking to her husband in favor of change; wanting to and talking about having a child to her husband who cannot give her what she wants; using her personal wealth to establish her lover at a time when men didn't live off the wealth of women -- but not much more of a mouthpiece than the character has had in previous screen incarnations.
So, in the end, we're given a film where the encounters do seem, feel, portray the physical relationship and the budding emotional one as arguably much more authentic than before, but that's about it. In the end, Constance has found love, and Parkin's accepted his place in the universe, and the film climaxes (a bad word, yes, but you knew it was coming ... ouch!) with perhaps the most curious moments that 50% of viewers would say cries out for a sequel ... but methinks D.H. Lawrence isn't around to take advantage of it.
I can't help but add that, come the conclusion, Constance is still governed by her issues. Her lust. Her desire. Her thirst for life and love. Her endless femininity. But, also, she's curiously weighted down just a bit by a free-spirited, globe-trotting sister who looks frighteningly like a young boy in awkward drag.
Such is life ...