The French Lieutenant's Woman - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The French Lieutenant's Woman Reviews

Page 1 of 13
Super Reviewer
February 2, 2011
This film interweaves two two-character dramas: as adulterous actors film a melodrama about a 19th Century adulterous couple, they begin to develop their own off-the-set feelings.
As a fan of his stage work and the film The Last Tycoon, I was excited to see more of Harold Pinter's work, but The French Lieutenant's Woman conspicuously lacks Pinter's characteristic pregnant pauses and focus on subtext. Yes, there's is a short scene between Smithson and his servant when we're to understand that the latter is blackmailing the former, but it's hardly as rich as Pinter's stage work. My expectations notwithstanding, the script provides us with precious few compelling scenes. More importantly, for most of the film I was unsure about why these two stories were being juxtaposed. What is this film saying about relationships and adultery? Sometimes it works, sometimes not? It's destructive? Either way, there's not much to sink our teeth into.
Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep try their best to wring some meta-textual complexity out of the story, but whereas Roger Ebert sees depth in their performances - he states, "Everything they say and do has another level of meaning, because we know the 'real' relationship between the actors themselves" - I saw actors and characters divorced, separated, as though these were two films that happened to be cut together. Thus, what I think is true of the script is also true of the performances.
Overall, the film's attempt to become greater than the sum of its parts only leaves us confused.
Super Reviewer
½ December 9, 2010
Extremely well done, slow and deliberate unraveling of two intertwined love stories.
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2007
The two love stories that are the link in this film would have been very boring in their own right, but mix the two, the time differences, the character changes and this film becomes a paradox of itself. It's tough going and not particularly exciting, but with Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep it's easy to spot this as a performance driven film.
Super Reviewer
½ August 29, 2013
Meryl Streep does her best in a meandering film. The TV version apparently is shorter but I doubt that it does much to pick up the slow action in an otherwise dull period piece.
Super Reviewer
½ June 12, 2010
Well acted, but the modern part of the story is silly and without any real point. That and the ending is a train wreck. Its not all bad, just rather tedious.
Super Reviewer
½ September 2, 2009
Sly, self-reflexive adaptation and movie-within-a-movie, having both a fictionalized and a real component complement each other, a meta-fictional technique used to great effect. As well as Harold Pinter's brilliant screenplay, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons manage to keep their respective roles distinctive, yet parallel.
Super Reviewer
½ March 31, 2009
Fantastic performance from Jeremy Irons, and of course Meryl Streep is flawless. 1981's interpretation of a period piece, contrasted with '81 present day. I became a huge fan of 70s and more early 80s movies, for quality movies - slower pace, more left to the viewer to discover. Brilliant. If you like period pieces and amazing acting, you will like this.
September 16, 2014
Just too cold and lifeless for my tastes. I usually love the repression filled costume dramas, but this never peaked my interest. Streep and Irons are fine, but their characters never got me very invested.
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2010
Yet again I am plagued with the experiance of rating and reviewing a Meryl Streep film. I suppose the performances were well done, a bit dramatic, but well done. The plot itself was too obvious, and call-able, but it was slightly romantic and sometimes entertaining. I found it went on too long though, though it wasn't much more than two hours it felt like much more. Overall, an okay film that Meryl Streep fans with like, but others might not.
July 20, 2007
Though this had all the elements needed for a good period romance, it ends up being less than the sum of its parts. The storyline is both simple and complicated but never engaging. Somehow it all just felt clinical. But the sex scene ranks right up there with the most awkward I have yet to see (outside of my own bedroom that is)
May 7, 2008
Not having read the book, I can't comment on it's translation to screen, but the movie is very interesting. The jumping back-and-forth in time makes for an interesting symmetry in the lives of the "characters" and the "actors" playing them. Worth seeing.
March 30, 2008
Meryl Streep is the ONLY reason why I didn?t hate this movie. I fell asleep twice and it didn?t matter. Even the supposed creativity of paralleling two relationships from different eras couldn?t save this disaster. Big effin WOMT.
July 2, 2007
"Meet me at the undercliff."

Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons play characters in a movie who are having an affair, and their real lives offscreen parallel that relationship. But the movie being filmed is slow and melancholy (the screenplay is by Pinter -- there were enough pauses, I should have guessed) and the real relationship between them, the one we care about more, is explored less and less. I don't know what consequence any of it has. And I was sort of falling asleep, which is not so good.
½ April 27, 2007
I liked how they did it. The way they put the story and the actors playing the lovers is unique. Ireally liked it.
½ March 14, 2007
Meryl Streep can't go wrong. I've been meaning to read an old copy of this book that I just bought.
September 29, 2006
great plot, great cast and really really romantic...Meryl Streep is brilliant like always and Jeremy Irons is magnificent!
½ October 23, 2015
Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep give wonderful performances as well as many of the supporting cast including the older woman that I am still trying to figure out who she was played by in the credits. The costumes, score, art direction, cinematography, writing, and direction are all wonderful as well.
½ August 13, 2015
Although it suffers from an overly austere tone, The French Lieutenant's Woman remains a moderately entertaining period drama elevated severely by its meta-narrative and Streep's excellent performance, working best at its culmination where both stories simultaneously converge.
½ July 30, 2015
A film in the film. Not a new idea, but here it is nicely managed.
Beautiful scenery, beautiful music, not just one, but two interesting stories.
½ February 27, 2015
Harold Pinter's adaptation of Fowles' now-classic 1969 novel does a splendid job of bridging the media divide between print and film. A top-notch cast, superb set design, and award-winning score make for a pleasurable watching experience. Jeremy Irons contractually took time off from filming the Granada TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited to star in this period-bending faux melodrama. At times stagy, any defects are overcome by Irons and Streep. Leo McKern turns in a good performance as well. Well worth a rental at your favorite online cinema shoppe.
Page 1 of 13