The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981)


“Do what you will. Or what you must. Now that I know there was truly a day upon which you loved me, I can bear anything.” – Sarah

Number of Times Seen – 1 (2 Nov 2019)

Brief Synopsis – A pair of actors working on a play set in the past try to deal with the real romance between themselves and their characters who lived a century earlier.

My Take on it – This is a film that I have dreaded watching for quite a long time and had no desire to ever see.

In my recent quest to try and watch all films that have received Oscar nominations for its actors, I finally gave in and watched this film.

It was not an easy watch because the story is told in such a slow fashion and fails to become interesting at all.

The plot is quite boring and the way that they mix together multiple stories makes things even more convoluted due to the fact that there fails to be a real anchor for things.

Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep are both great actors but they aren’t given enough to work with here and the way they both play these multiple characters fails to work well enough to make this story enjoyable in any way.

The romance(s) portrayed between these characters is quite bland and there is no chemistry between these characters at all which doesn’t help make this any more enjoyable to watch.

This film tries much too hard to try and compare and contrast both of these stories and instead of making things more interesting, they end up making things even more confusing for the viewer.

Neither of these stories feel satisfying enough and that has much to do with the way that this films slow churning pace crawls along agonizingly.

Streep was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in this film despite the fact that this is quite far from being among her best work.

Bottom Line – Really boring film that gets so convoluted because it fails to stay anchored in its story.  Irons and Streep are great actors but the way that they play these multiple characters just doesn’t work well enough to make this story enjoyable. The two of them have terrible chemistry together which hurts things even more. The film tries too hard to compare and contrast these two stories but in doing so makes it even more confusing.  Neither of these stories is satisfying enough to watch and that has much to do with the way that the film drags out and delivers things in such a slow pace. Streep was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for her work here even if this is far from being among her best performances.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The film’s director Karel Reisz once said of this film: “I admired the novel tremendously from my first reading, but I didn’t see how to turn it into a drama. The book has two exceptional qualities as a source for a movie. First, quite simply, it has a wonderful story that centers on the extraordinary character of Sarah Woodruff, a turbulent, passionate spirit who is, so to speak, born into the wrong age. She has some of the visions we associate with the 20th Century, but she was born penniless into the 19th Century. Secondly, the novel is a kind of a game. It tells a Victorian story, but does so from the vantage point of today. Fowles continually invites us to view events with our modern knowledge. He plays with the idea that he is only writing a fiction, and shares some of his problems with us”. (From IMDB)

Rating – Razzie Worthy (2/10)

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One thought on “The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981)

  1. Pingback: Did They Get it Right? – Best Actress – Oscars 1981 | MovieRob

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