October 14, 2007
Film Flashback: "Women In Love"
I can't stand HBO's new series, "Tell Me You Love Me," because it's basically a bunch of self-indulgent whiners engaging each week in a bit of soft-core porn. For those same reasons, I might have hated Ken Russell's adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's "Women in Love" were it not for the phenomenal, jaw-dropping 1960s camp factor that had me wide-eyed and sporadically collapsing into laughter. At the time it was released, this film was critically lauded, but I'm not sure it holds up three decades later. Alan Bates (a poor man's Ewan MacGregor) is playboy Rupert Birkin while Oliver Reed (a.k.a. Bill Sykes in Oliver!) is the brooding industrialist Gerald Crich, whom, I might add, is reminiscent of a mustachioed Jake Gyllenhaal. Both men have a serious "Brokeback" thing going on, complete with a buck-naked Greco-Roman wrestling scene in front of a raging fire that, well, can only be seen to be believed. Meanwhile, Glenda Jackson and Jennie Linden wear way too much eyeliner for their 1920s alter egos, Gudrun and Ursula, who are besotted with the aforementioned lads. In addition to some bizarre romps through wheat and fir trees and an erotic education on the proper way to eat a fig, the strangest part of this movie are the experimental camera angles and an ending that is so abrupt it gives the Sopranos series finale a run for its money. Jackson actually won an Oscar for her role in the film, thanks no doubt to her kick-ass dance moves. (I now know where Madonna learned to "vogue.")
Verdict? So bad it's good. (As it's listed as No. 87 on the British Film Institute's Top 100 films, I'm sure there are some diehard fans out there somewhere. If so, feel free to comment and tell me what I'm missing.