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.


Karel Reisz


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





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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She was lost from the moment she saw him.


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


One of two filmed productions released in 1981 in which Jeremy Irons appeared; the other being Brideshead Revisited (1981). See more »


When Charles visits the garden and his bride-to-be is firing arrows, she loads a new arrow as she sees him. Then there is a cut to a closer shot, and she is loading the new arrow again. See more »


[describing how she became the French Lieutenant's mistress]
Sarah: Soon he no longer bothered to hide the nature of his intensions towards me. Nor could I pretend surprise. My innocence was false from the moment I chose to stay. I could tell you that he overpowered me, or that he drugged me. But it is not so. I gave myself to him. I did it - so that I should never be the same again.
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Referenced in St. Elsewhere: Addiction (1983) See more »


Prelude in C minor
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
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User Reviews

Smart, atmospheric love story with brilliant actors
15 September 2010 | by kneiss1See all my reviews

When I got this movie, and read the title, I wasn't expecting anything that would suit my taste. I have been expecting a cheesy, unrealistic and boring women's movie. - I have been wrong.

Of course it was a bit cheesy, but less cheesy than most Hollywood movies. Actually, the whole movie was quite realistic. Of course this movie is mainly for women. - It's a love story! Yet, I find it has more to offer to male viewers than other love stories. The main actor is male. An absolutely interesting character. A character that is trying hard to be good, but isn't perfect at all. A character you can actually identify with. And my god, Jeremy Irons played that character so well.

This movie has a calm and melancholic atmosphere. I am sure many people will mistake it for "boredom". - Not me; the story is so interesting, that it kept me curious throughout the whole movie. I really didn't know how this story was ending. And yet, the ending satisfied me totally. An extremely unusual case for me.

My pretty much only gripe about the movie is, that the story in the 20th century is suffering in length. While characters and storyline are in perfect shape when it comes to 19th century, the story and characters lack depth, when it comes to the 20th century.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

16 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The French Lieutenant's Woman See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Juniper Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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