Friday, 20 May 2011



Confession: I've never read DH Lawrence's original novel about humping across the class divide in the Nottingham area. Nor have I seen any other screen adaptations - I did start with the BBC's version directed by Ken Russell but gave up after the first episode on the grounds of stupefying dullness - and, I suspect like most people, I know of it more from its reputation when prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act (which puts it in the same bracket as Nightmares In A Damaged Brain) than from actually having sat and read, or watched, the thing. This big screen incarnation is one of several, but probably the biggest and most ambitious, and equally probably the most explicit. But then it's directed by Emmanuelle's Just Jaeckin and stars that film's Sylvia Kristel, so a PG rating was frankly unlikely.

It's the familiar Lady Chatterley's Lover story: posh bird can't get no satisfaction from her beloved but crippled husband so takes up with the gruff and sweaty gamekeeper in a serious of increasingly graphic but mistily shot shaggings; things don't end well. Set against the eternal class barriers and snobbery between the landed (though not genuinely aristocratic) gentry and the mere peasantry who actually do all the work, it's really not interested in all that and really wants to get down to all the rutting: it's all shot through gauze or something so it looks very pretty but - and this is really the problem with all pornography - it's actually incredibly boring.

It's a stifling film: not just the social oppression of rich and poor, man and woman, noble and pleb, but the suffocating gloom of the massive (and clearly massively underused) Wragby Hall. And the sex scenes are frankly hideously dull. Not necessarily a case of "when you've seen one you've seen them all", more a case of "when you've looked at this one long enough you really do want to look at something else". Nicholas (Excalibur) Clay is Mellors, a role originally earmarked for Oliver Reed or Ian McShane, but it's Sylvia "Emmanuelle" Kristel at the centre of it and she's not really doing anything she wasn't doing in Emmanuelle - taking her clothes off and having sex. It's just not enough: it's not interesting and at 100 minutes it's far too long for what is basically a softcore porn movie - a well-mounted porn movie, yes, with some recognisable actors in it (Anthony Head shows up as a German at the opening party sequence) and decent production values - but still cripplingly dull.


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