7.0/10
12,349
74 user 41 critic

The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

Trailer
1:59 | Trailer
Anna and Mike portray two characters in a film set in 19th century England who fall in love despite the fact that Mike's character is engaged.

Director:

Karel Reisz

Writers:

John Fowles (novel), Harold Pinter (screenplay)
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Meryl Streep ... Sarah and Anna
Jeremy Irons ... Charles and Mike
Hilton McRae Hilton McRae ... Sam
Emily Morgan Emily Morgan ... Mary
Charlotte Mitchell Charlotte Mitchell ... Mrs. Tranter
Lynsey Baxter ... Ernestina
Jean Faulds Jean Faulds ... Cook
Peter Vaughan ... Mr. Freeman
Colin Jeavons ... Vicar
Liz Smith ... Mrs. Fairley
Patience Collier ... Mrs. Poulteney
John Barrett ... Dairyman
Leo McKern ... Dr. Grogan
Arabella Weir ... Girl on Undercliff
Ben Forster ... Boy on Undercliff
Edit

Storyline

A movie is being made of a story, set in nineteenth century England, about Charles, a paleontologist who's engaged to be married, but who falls in love with outcast Sarah, whose melancholy makes her leave him after a short, but passionate affair. Anna (Meryl Streep) and Mike (Jeremy Irons), who play the characters of Sarah and Charles, go, during the shooting of the movie, through a relationship that runs parallel to that of their characters. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She was lost from the moment she saw him.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Source novelist John Fowles had not been happy with the filmed versions of his two earlier novels "The Collector" (1963) and "The Magus" (1965). Both of these earlier works had previously been filmed prior to the publishing of Fowles' third novel "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1969). So Fowles insisted on selecting the director of this movie, and his first choice, Karel Reisz, became the director. See more »

Goofs

Early in the film, as Charles is going on to the jetty to warn Sarah, his cape changes in how it is buttoned from shot to shot. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Grogan: [placing his hand on Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of the Species"] Nothing that has been said in this room tonight, or that remains to be said, will go beyond these walls.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio from Sonata in D, K 576
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (as Mozart)
Played by John Lill
See more »

User Reviews

 
A multi-chambered Nautilus shell fossilized in stone.
24 January 2003 | by budmasseySee all my reviews

This movie opens with a scene of an archaeologist chipping at a multi-chambered Nautilus shell fossilized in stone. The image is apropos, as the story itself opens from chamber to ever larger chamber as it weaves two seemingly disparate stories with a clever ending.

Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep are impressive as the leads in two different time lines. In one, Streep is a woman of poor reputation who ensnares a gentleman (Irons) in the black hole of her own guilt and loss. In the other, they are the romantically involved actors making a movie about a woman of poor reputation who ensnares a gentleman. And if that sounds a little too clever, it nonetheless has more creativity and insight than typical plot-twist movie, including the most contrived and overrated movie of all time, Memento (not good enough to be called bad).

There is a scene, in which Streep and Irons are rehearsing a scene from the movie, and, according to the story, it just isn't working. Then, all at once, Streep gets a look on her face, and we are transported into the past time line with a single glance from the greatest working actress and second only to Katherine Hepburn as the greatest actress of all time.

The cinematography, costumes and set designs are legendary, and come from the same team that gave us The Count of Monte Christo, which featured Guy Pearce, who was in the above-mentioned Memento (it still stinks, but how's that for six degrees?). And speaking of legends, the screenplay was written by none other than Nobel laureate Harold Pinter, and it shows.

It is a sublime movie experience to watch the delicately chambered story open up, and there are scenes that are so memorable, like Streep on the misty pier, that you would swear this movie comes from the Golden Age of cinema, not the go-go eighties. The movie is emotionally draining, and Streep gives a typically high concept performance. Irons lacks something, but it's not clear what, but in the end it helps support the story by making him appear flawed enough to have been trapped in the intricate web of The French Lieutenant's Woman.


54 of 75 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 74 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The French Lieutenant's Woman See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$26,890,068

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$26,890,068
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Juniper Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed