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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Women In Love (1969)

Set in a country coal mining town in 1920s England, two very different sisters find themselves attracted to two complicated men. One (Glenda Jackson) gets involved with the wealthy son (Oliver Reed) of the mine's owner (Alan Webb) while the other (Jennie Linden) falls in love with a free thinking non-conformist (Alan Bates). Based on the classic novel by D.H. Lawrence and directed by Ken Russell. I'm not an admirer of Lawrence's novel which I found very abstruse and enigmatic. I'm more than willing to admit the fault is mine though to be fair I was only 20 when I read it. That being said, Russell's film does an admirable job of keeping the essence of Lawrence's novel while freely going all cinematic on us rather than give us a tasteful Merchant/Ivory rendition of a classic novel. Admirers of the book may feel differently. Stunningly shot by Billy Williams in Great Britain (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire) and Switzerland, Russell's films explores the complex question of what defines love and if love can be limited to just one person or gender. This was the career breakthrough for Jackson (who won an Oscar for her work here) and she dominates the film although I felt Reed held his own in his scenes with her. As crazy, sensual and envelope pushing as it is, ironically this may be Russell's most restrained motion picture. With Eleanor Bron, Vladek Sheybal, Michael Gough, Catherine Willmer and Christopher Gable.

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