Directed by Karel Reisz
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons
Based on the novel by John Fowles
Screenplay by Harold Pinter published in Collected
It took director Karel Riesz and playwright Harold
Pinter to develop an ingenious method to convey the essence of
Fowles's book. The film retells the novel's story, set in 1867
of a strange young woman dishonored by her involvement with a
French soldier and the English gentleman who finds her mystery
and sadness irresistible. Simultaneously, a parallel story of
the affair between the two actors portraying the central roles
in a film within a film unfolds on screen.
|Jeremy Irons and
Pinter's script eventually obscures the borders
between the parallel events. At a party at Mike's home, a guest
inquires about the film's ending. The actor can't quite remember
whether the director has selected the happy or sad conclusion.
Later he mistakenly calls Anna, Sarah.
The unconventional approach to Fowles' novel takes
some getting used to but succeeds in conveying the complexity
of the original in the final analysis. Writer Pinter has always
found novel ways of translating other author's work to the screen
as can be seen in his screenplays of The Go-between and
The Last Tycoon.
Pinter and Reisz sensitivity to the material has
paid off handsomely. The film translation of The French Lieutenant's
Woman is both literate, imaginative and visually stunning.
Variety, September 9th 1981