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Lady Chatterley - Preview and Cesar triumph

Lady Chatterley

Preview by Jack Foley

FRENCH film Lady Chatterley, based on a less verbose earlier version of DH Lawrence’s story, published in France as Lady Chatterley et L’homme Des Bois, has been named best film at the Cesars, France’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Pascale Ferran’s film pretty much swept the board at the ceremony, also winning four further awards including best actress for Marina Hands.

The film follows the fortunes of Constance Reid (Hands) who marries irresistible Cambridge graduate, lieutenant and mine owner Clifford Chatterley at the age of 23.

Their honeymoon is brief, however, as it’s the year 1917 and Clifford is soon drafted. When he returns from Flanders, he’s a broken man, condemned to spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

The young couple move to Wragby, one of the Chatterley family’s properties, and Constance begins to look back longingly over the years before her marriage when she spent her time with artists and students of her own age, enjoying long trips abroad.

Now lonely and isolated in a rural environment that bores her, Constance finds some comfort in her gamekeeper, who awakens a desire in Lady Chatterley she has never felt before.

The films ends as Constance and Parkin are about to embark upon a new life together, for which there are no prescribed patterns.

Aside from the big two awards, Lady Chatterley also took home best adaptation, best costumes and best cinematography.

When it was shown at the recent Berlin Film Festival, the film played to rapturous acclaim. The Observer, for instance, commented: “Paced with all the formal elegance of an opening flower, this is as pure an example of classical film-making as can be found.”

It adds: “With the young woman’s tentative point-of-view as our guide, the sexual courtship has nothing smutty about it – it’s a convincing thing, as is her slow, erotic self-discovery.”

Further Cesar awards

Francois Cluzet won best actor for Ne le Dis a Personne (Don’t Tell Anyone), which also saw Guillaume Canet named best director.

American indie hit Little Miss Sunshine was named best foreign film and In The Skin of Jacques Chirac, a documentary examining the French president’s 40 years in politics, took the best documentary prize.

British actor Jude Law received an achievement award.

The big favourite going into the ceremony had been Indigenes (or Days Of Glory), an epic film about African soldiers in World War II that performed well as part of last year’s London Film Festival.

It had received nine nominations going into the ceremony but came away with only the Cesar for best original screenplay.
The film is on the shortlist for best foreign language film at this year’s Oscars.