Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Update: The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

Meryl Streep as Anna (right) and Sarah (left)

Film: United Artists, directed by Karel Reisz

In a previous post, I wrote about the novel The French Lieutentant's Woman by John Fowles. At that point, I had not seen the film adaption. Last night, I watched the movie and it's quite different from the novel in that it interweaves two different stories: the book's original story of Sarah Woodruff and Charles Smithson in Victorian England and the story of Anna and Mike, the two actors portraying them.

Overall, I thought that the film was pretty good, but I wasn't overly fond of the second story of the actors' love affair. It felt like the original story was far too brief for what the novel actually offered. Although the film is over 2 hours long, the film felt short because so much of the original story was cut in order to make room for the second story. The second story didn't seem neccessary, but I understand how it might add some appeal or interest to the film for some movie viewers. The second story gave the film a more contemporary twist.

Anyway, I wasn't a huge fan of the added story, but I did like the majority of the film. It had a nice balance of tragedy, drama, suspense and romance. Both Meryl Streep (Sarah/Anna) and Jeremony Irons (Charles/Mike) gave strong performances, and they had the right chemistry for the story. Many of the supporting actors also gave strong performances.

 The landscapes (i.e. the Undercliff and the sea) used in the movie were beautiful and they served the story well. Speaking of elements that served the story well, Carl Davis' score for the film was excellent, especially during the unspoken moments between Sarah and Charles. The score also added the right amount of drama to the story without being overdone or melodramatic. Davis' music carried the story along very nicely.

Overall, I enjoyed the film and much of it was well executed and beautifully done. I would recommend this film, but I suggest reading the novel prior to seeing the film because the novel goes into much more depth. I prefer the novel to the film, but I did appreciate the film.

*Also, the ending in the film is much happier than Fowles' ending. I liked the film's ending much better than Fowles' ending because the film's finish is much happier and brighter, although possibly unlikely.

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