Directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, written by David Magee, and based on D.H. Lawrence’s book, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” follows Connie Reid as she gets married to Clifford Chatterley. From the outset, Connie paints a liberal image of Clifford as she describes how he’s okay with the fact that she had an affair with a German soldier before their marriage and talks in detail about how happy she is about being Clifford’s wife. But tragedy strikes as Clifford goes to fight in World War I the day after their marriage and comes back with an injury that has rendered him incapable of walking. So, in order to recover, Connie and Clifford move out to the Chatterley estate in Wragby. Things start out on an amicable note as Clifford focuses on his writing while Connie helps him out with his physical activities. However, upon seeing Connie’s growing dissatisfaction with this arrangement and his own inability to partake in intercourse, Clifford comes up with an idea. And it involves Connie having a secret affair with a man, getting pregnant, and then producing an heir to their estate. Of course, that doesn’t go according to plan.
Major Spoilers Ahead
So, What Is Up With All The Lovemaking Scenes In ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’?
There’s little-to-no chemistry during the initial scenes where Connie and Oliver (a former lieutenant who is hired as the gamekeeper of the grounds) cross each other’s paths. But after watching him without clothes, Connie pretty much confirms that she’s attracted to Oliver. She begins visiting the hut he lives in under the pretext of getting away from the oppressive, depressing castle and reading her book. Nothing remotely happens physically, though. During one of Clifford’s elaborate lunches, she gets into an argument with Clifford over venturing into the profession of mining (which is an exploitative field) instead of pursuing his writing. She leaves in a huff with the sole purpose of sleeping with him. And after that point, there’s essentially no looking back as Clermont-Tonnerre mounts one picturesque intimate scene over another, which is beautifully performed by Emma Corrin and Jack O’Connell. However, in an era where people are either asking for “clean romance” or sleeping with another person for pleasure, what’s the point of these indulgent intimate scenes?
Well, going by the nature of the scenes and since the film has Clermont-Tonnerre at the helm, it’s about portraying physical intimacy from the female perspective. Usually, in the aforementioned scenarios, filmmakers (especially male directors) don’t take that into consideration. But in “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” Laure ensures that even the dumbest person understands why women want to indulge in “intercourse” and what they want during the “process.” In addition to that, it’s a nod to the public prosecution of Penguin Books under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 for printing D.H. Lawrence’s 1928 novel (which was heavily censored and abridged during its 1928 release). The book apparently underwent three drafts before the final unexpurgated typewritten transcript was submitted. When the publisher refused to print it because of the “obscenity” in writing, Lawrence was forced to publish the first edition without any copyright protection. That copy reached the U.S., and thus began the trial, where critics and experts were brought in to declare that Lawrence and Penguin Books were “not guilty” of any crime. So, the reason why we’re getting to watch such artistically raunchy scenes from the comfort of our homes is that a bunch of people fought for the liberalization of the media. Always remember that.
What Causes Connie And Oliver’s Relationship To Unravel?
The honeymoon period comes to an end when Connie starts to suspect that she’s pregnant with Oliver’s child. When Connie hints about this to Mrs. Bolton (Clifford’s caretaker, who is appointed by Connie’s sister after Connie experiences exhaustion), she spreads the rumor around the village that Connie is pregnant with Clifford’s child. When the rumor reaches Clifford’s ears, he assumes that Connie has finally found someone whose child she can bear. No, he doesn’t assume she’s already having an affair with the gamekeeper. That’s why Connie also doesn’t raise any suspicions about her relationship with Oliver. Instead, she conjures up a false plan to go to Venice and meet her supposed lover there. Clifford gladly signs off on that, but when Oliver learns about Clifford and Connie’s whole “agreement,” he feels that he has been used for giving Connie a child. Since Oliver’s ex-wife, Bertha, had cheated on him, Connie’s revelation becomes too much for him to bear.
Now, while Oliver and Connie manage to see past this conflict because they truly love each other, and Clifford continues to stay in the dark, the real issue arises when Connie’s sister Hilda highlights the class divide between Oliver and Connie. She not only reprimands Connie for thinking this extramarital affair can work, but she also shows the mirror to Oliver so that he understands he has nothing to offer to Connie once he gets sacked by Clifford. No matter how bitter it is, Hilda underscores how the working-class man is reduced to a disposable product just because he doesn’t have any money or fancy estate to fall back on. Emotions, loyalty, and love—these things aren’t even taken into consideration because the only thing society sees is the price tag on their heads. And although “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is based on a book from the 1920s, can we say that a lot has changed since then? With the rise of matrimonial websites and “arranged marriages,” class and caste divides have become more evident. The only difference between then and now is that, maybe, there are more couples who are willing to rebel against this status quo instead of conforming to it.
‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ Ending Explained: Who Does Connie Choose, Oliver Or Clifford? And Why?
After going to London and preparing to go to Venice, Connie’s father straight-up tells her that she should forget about Oliver and stick with Clifford because the latter has the estate. She can have affairs with several men every other month or year. But she is advised to keep Clifford around so that she doesn’t starve to death. Back in Wragby, Oliver’s ex-wife’s husband spreads the rumor that Connie is having an affair with Oliver. Just like before, it reaches Clifford’s ears, and he orders Oliver to leave the grounds for good. Oliver doesn’t fight back. Mrs. Bolton informs Connie about this. So, she returns to Wragby to meet Oliver and bid him goodbye. But that’s not where she stops. She goes up to Clifford and confronts him for being an absolutely self-centered husband. She tells him that he is the one who came up with the idea of “allowing” Connie to have an affair, have a child, and then forget all about the biological father, which highlights Clifford’s fundamental misunderstanding of sexual intercourse and love. She asks him for a divorce. However, Clifford refuses to give her a way out.
Connie walks out on Clifford and goes to Venice with her family. When the maids of Wragby start to speak ill of Connie’s affair, Mrs. Bolton reminds them of her nobility and how she has given up everything for Oliver. This stops Clifford from controlling the narrative, thereby subverting the trope where the aristocratic class has the final say while the working class is always forced to deal with the existing condition. News of Connie’s dissent reaches Oliver, and he writes back to her about how he has made a home in Scotland. When Connie gets her hands on that letter, he travels to Oliver’s new hut and gets her hands on him as well. And on that note, another chapter of their story begins, which will hopefully be free of society’s expectations. If you see it from a cynical perspective, you can say that the couple is going to be miserable. But that’s probably because your cynicism comes from your thirst for opulence and your definition of luxury. Most people just want to live peacefully and healthily with their loved ones, and the size or remoteness of their home is the least of their worries. So, despite the predictable nature of the story, I hope that the film teaches people to love wholeheartedly instead of seeing if their prospective partner meets all the parameters established by a classist society.
“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is a 2022 Drama Romance film directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre.