Top critical review
'WOE! MAN IN LOVE"
on June 19, 2001
Well, ISN'T it all about forbidden fruit?
Or as our beloved Cher would say "Snap out of it!" That's what Jennie Linden [Ursula} should say to Alan Bates [a comedic turn as the misguided DHL veiled as Birkin] regarding his comments about pure male love. Leading poor Gerald [Oliver Reeed - smouldering] on and on and on - and Gerald simply cannot commit to anything - - fully! BUT, "Woe, Man in Love" would not have worked - not commercial, besides it was the era of emancipation from Victoriana Regina!
Frenetic fornication - suspenders, buttons, hose, undies, everything shreds. How could they remain so composed [err, controlled] while disrobing so violently? All that fumbling?? Magnificent period costumes by Shirley Russell.
This sad dirge is semi-autobiographical, inspired by DHL's experiences with the "Bloomsbury" intelligentsia - similar to the Byron/Polidori/Shelley "Gothic" set, but not quite as depraved.
Glenda Jackson devours the screen, and just about everything else as the Carnivorous Gudrun. Pandora's Box is unhinged and the demons are loose - she's Lillith [Adam's first wife/original dust] unleashed. Two, three Oscars can barely compensate her for this catharsis, and that voice! [One of the most sensual voice of the 20th Century - there's always Gielgud though......] The final sequence with Gerald at the sterile schloss devastates - it's pure vocal flagellation, the "whip of the soul". A prime acting lesson for the novice.
THE nude [male] wrestling scene? Observe Reed's face at the climax of the match - wrenching! Not forgetting Linden's close-up at the end of the movie - subtle, but Mr. Russell makes the point well-known.
Worthy of note : Catherine Wilmer as Gerald's Class conscious pre-prozac mother [or is she just having a bad day?] is this Gudrun in later years, all dried up? Still, tearing at the male?
Russell should not have bothered with "The Music Lovers" [brilliant though it is] the Tchaikovsky sequence says it all!
The work deserved five stars on the big screen - it impacts differently in this cropped version - 3 stars only.
A good companion piece ? "Sons and Lovers" [this time, Dean Stockwell as the younger DHL with Mary Ure], more about that later.