Variety - 09/09/1981
"...The handsome production, superlative craft and sympathetic portraits make for a virtually irresistible piece of entertainment..."
New York Times - 09/18/1984
"...An astonishingly beautiful film, acted to the elegant hilt by Meryl Streep....Dazzling..."
USA Today - 09/07/2001
"...[Pinter] came up with something akin to a cinematic equivalent of Fowles' asides and cultural footnotes that peppered the novel -- licking, to some extent, the problems in adapting what many though was an unadaptable book..."
In this dramatic film, director Karel Reisz and screenwriter Harold Pinter adapt the complex romantic novel by John Fowles, THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN. Set in 1867, Sarah Woodrough (Meryl Streep), a beautiful young woman, is condemned by society and driven into a deep melancholy because of her tragic affair with a French lieutenant. Fowles adds depth and texture to the story by including direct historical asides and scientific lessons by Charles Smithson (Jeremy Irons), a wealthy amateur paleontologist and follower of Charles Darwin. In addition, there is a film within the film in which modern-day (1981) characters Anna (Streep) and Mike (Irons) provide comments on the characters they're portraying, and a little history, but primarily provide a parallel story as they enter an adulterous affair of their own. The contrast between the Victorian and the contemporary affairs, at first jarring, is beautifully staged and photographed. Streep's two performances, as the passionate Sarah, with her beautiful head of pre-Raphaelite hair and as the cool, modern Anna, never converge; the distinctness of the division between the two characters symbolizes the almost unconscious perception that however distant a person feels from his repressed Victorian sexuality, it's still connected to him, as Darwin would say.
Brilliant adaptation by Harold Pinter of John Fowles' novel. This richly complex film juxtaposes two stories, one "real" and one fictional, to explore issues of romantic illusion, passion and betrayal. Two actors, both married, star in a movie about the romance between a compelling but morally questionable Victorian Englishwoman and an English nobleman. As the performers become more and more involved in their roles, they begin their own clandestine affair that mirrors the one taking place on screen.
Essential Cinema |
Love Story |
Period Piece |
Theatrical Release |