You couldn't ask for a more tender or elegant take on D.H. Lawrence's novel than French director Pascale Ferran's film Lady Chatterley. The achingly slow build, beautiful camera work, and stark sensuousness make this adaptation a quiet thing of beauty. Strictly speaking, this film isn't a re-creation of Lady Chatterley's Lover—Lawrence wrote three versions, the last being the most famous, and this film is based on the second (John Thomas and Lady Jane). In any case, the story is set at a languid hot-summer pace, and shows a young woman's awakening from repression.
Lady Constance Chatterley (Marina Hands) is a young, beautiful wife, married to a rich, recently paralyzed WWI veteran. She wiles her days away on a picturesque French estate surrounded by woods, with no one to talk to and an uninterested husband sleeping in the room next door. Her ennui becomes so severe she lapses into a state of "low vitality," and finds that long walks in the woods revive her—and what should lurk in the forest but a big burly gamekeeper named Parkin (Jean-Louis Cullo'ch). And I'm sure you can guess what happens from there.
Constance and Parkin's secret affair spans the course of a summer, and what starts as an awkward, wordless fling in a toolshed turns into tender acts of awakening for each of them. Constance learns that she's a sexual being, and Parkin learns to love (aw!). But this film isn't just about the sex (though make no mistake, there's a lot of it)—Ferran has created an homage to nature that borders on hippie-tastic. Constance and Parkin frolic in the nude in a rain shower, and adorn each other with flowers and garlands. While on paper that smacks of flower power, don't worry—on film, Ferran makes it touching and beautiful.