Miranda Bowen's Revisionist WOMEN IN LOVE for the 21st Century
First, let me state that I am a fan of anything "DH Lawrence", and, particularly, WOMEN IN LOVE (in both of its novelistic forms and its 1969 Ken Russell/Glenda Jackson film adaptation). A HUGE fan.
The above vote of 10 stars is for accepting this adaptation on it's own particular terms. Those terms are established on the melding of themes from the text of THE RAINBOW and WOMEN IN LOVE and the incorporation of thematically related "bits" from other of DHL's writings --- some borrowings from his early THE TRESSPASSER as well, perhaps? We also are back with the sisters themselves instead of the quasi-closeted homo erotic preoccupations of the Ken Russell/Larry Kramer film and, well, Lawrence's book (WIL) itself. (The notorious wrestling scene is intact, but differently)The scriptwriting is an act of brilliant,rejuvenating, irreverence towards a Standard 20th Century Classic. The direction (importantly) executed by a woman, maneuvers the viewpoint away from the potentially sensational --- though, there's enough of that intact ---- and skewers our attention towards psychologically fascinating CHARACTERS and how they think, act, talk, feel and interact. In other words, we are dealing with real people with all of their complexities and the unusual and carefully chosen actors are more than up to the challenge. Metaphysical richness makes itself known through the in-the-viewers'-faces relationships of its characters not unlike the terrain of Ingmar Bergman's SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. In many ways this and the 2006 LADY CHATTERLEY directed by Pascale Ferran stand together as the beginning of a much-needed "Woman-ist" (or dare I say "Feminist") questioning and restatement of Lawrence's absorption in The Sexes. As a result, we start to get a more complete and therefore more interesting whole picture. This is THE RAINBOW and WOMEN IN LOVE as it might have been written by a woman instead of a man. Perhaps this heralds a trend where more women will delve into Lawrentian territory for cinematic subject matter. The result could be a revelatory body of work for us all.
This is hard and demanding cinema. There's little likable. It is often bleak and sometimes downright ugly --- very little of the pretty or the Romantic to leaven the situation. But, remember, the gist of Lawrence's book, under the purpled prose and poetic flights, was actually that way, too.
So, this writer suggests you --- particularly if "you" are a DHL/WIL Fan --- put away your cherished expectations and your wishes to return to hallowed literary grounds. Open your mind, fight your wish to reject and submit to something totally 180 degrees different and new. It isn't either book --- it's a uncompromising restatement of them.
Many thanks to BBC4 for funding something this radical and risky. It's been a long time since a literary adaptation made me think and feel so long and so deeply in its aftermath.
Bravo! to all involved.
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