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Cynthia inherits her aunt's large estate and moves in. She reads her aunt's diary and finds out (and graphically imagines) how she was taught in the ways of love by her gardener in 1901 at the age of 21. She decides to continue the fruitful relationship to the personnel and gets it on with the handsome young gardener herself. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
The world of cinema does come in threes. For the past two weeks, films have come through my viewing palettes that have befouled my overall excitement for cinema. In a standard rut, one hopes that these final two films will prove otherwise, but keeping my fingers crossed will not be helpful. From nurses in love and an Americanized Harvey Keitel, nothing could have prepared me for the upcoming triumph known as "Young Lady Chatterley". Tagged as the first "X-rated movie to touch you where it counts your heart", one pleads with the DVD box to please allow some semblance of a story to push through the "romps" on the grass, but alas, my voice went unheard. This entry into the world of D.H. Lawrence's classic story proves that the naughty bits do make a film, and the late 70s were not afraid to experiment. With lush backgrounds, deepened British accents, and the downtrodden theme of finding an unbridled love free of boredom, "Young Lady Chatterley" attempts to mask the honesty that it is a softcore erotica film. It attempts to say that with these other elements thrown into the mix, we are not just your normal late-night darkened viewing, but instead something of some class and/or cult standing. As a reviewer of this film, one must look at both elements to examine if this film accomplished what it set out to do. How was production value? Was there a determined story? How were our characters? Because it is softcore erotica, should it not be placed within these same rules? While others will argue "no", "Young Lady Chatterley" is a film, and how does it rank among other films of this nature? Not to disappoint, but poorly.
Classical England would ask, "Doth a scenery make strong erotica?" While it seems the general reviewer of this film would agree, I had trouble seeing the production value or lush scenery in "Young Lady Chatterley". There wasn't anything that stood out, minimal sweeping wide shots, over-lighting throughout, and that soft camera filter that made the 70s what they are today were staples within this film. If anything, they were overused to the point of obscuring the actor's work. Leaning further towards the notion of softcore cinema than actual plot-induced cinema, we can look at our actors, to see what their production value was within this 1977 classic. Harlee McBride, our lead and lady-in-waiting, begins bored, with both life and obviously this role, but as soon as she steps on our twice-removed-once-loved-Chatterley estate, the love and life begin to pour out of her - literally! With everyone imaginable, she shares herself and takes into form an unrecognizable character. Was she married to Phillip? Was she just engaged? How did it go from Phillip to every person at the estate? The transition, like her character, just didn't fit. She lacked that sexual manipulation that was needed to make this film into something more than just the overabundance of love. There was no change in her or her character, we were handed nothing to begin with - and just expected to believe everything that occurred. Poor direction by Alan Roberts lead to disinterested characters. Not only with Harlee McBride, but also with everyone else. The burly young gardener, the maids, the obviously oblique servants, everyone invited to the finale cake party - just seemed disjointed from the rest of the film.
With no strong characters, a plot that left nothing to the imagination or hope, there really was nothing left of "Young Lady Chatterley". In fact, I am rather surprised that the Lawrence estate allowed the name to be used for this film. What did stand out, as the only creativity within a mile, was the surrounding story of the first Lady Chatterley and her first run in with the gardener. The character depth, the excitement of young love, and the passion that could not be surprisingly were all there for these brief sub-scenes. The connection between the original lovers vs. that of the new "Young" version, was surprisingly different. The first had purpose and meaning, while the other was just softcore dribble. The conversations between the first Lady Chatterley and the gardener seemed responsive and open for discussion, giving at least one purpose to this film - while the rest, well, was utterly disappointing.
Overall, another milestone has been hit. The third bad film in a row provides me with an opportunity to watch my first adult classic, but let's me down entirely. The sub-stories was creative, but the rest of the film was meant for one sole purpose. "Young Lady Chatterley" may have been pioneering for the time, but over the decades, it has just been forgotten and replaced. There is a way to create a story like this and actually be artistic, but it was ignored in this film. This wasn't a cult classic, it was just cinematic garbage. The story didn't work, our characters were merely naked, and no development to anything was created. While others boast the lush scenery as being a positive mark on this film, it just wasted time. The soft-lens treatment of this film blurred away anything interesting from this film, and delivering another cinematic flop.
Grade: * 1/2 out of *****
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