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

The French Lieutenant's Woman Reviews

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½ September 10, 2017
Full of clichés and extremely dull, The French Lieutenant's Woman would be an unbearable experience if it wasn't for Meryl Streep's fine tuned dual role.
½ May 30, 2016
While the acting was good, i didnt care for the two simultaneously occurring plot lines. I wish it had just stayed in the time period plot. Good script altho it couldve been more in depth like showing more of the french lieutenant and explaining motives. Good performances by the actors. Also i cant understand these women like with jane eyre who just abandon the man they love for years. It is so cruel and i dont care the reason.
½ February 28, 2016
As if the title wasn't bad enough to completely turn you off, it's one of many of Meryl Steep's super bland adultery movies. At least the costumes were nice.
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.
April 25, 2015
can't believe I never saw this sooner. It reminded me so much of "Age of Innocence"
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.
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.
December 20, 2013
Extremamente bem feito, desenrolar lento e deliberado de duas histórias de amor entrelaçadas com finais divergentes
October 8, 2013
I quite liked the book, but I love this cinematic adaptation more. I think it even more interesting that this film was made at the beginning of the 1980's which, for me, was one of the worst decades for filmmaking. The power of this movie rests on the shoulders of Meryl Streep and the cinematography of Freddie Francis. This is film art.
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.
August 18, 2013
Went to Lyme and walked along The Cobb recently and felt inspired to watch this classic movie again - after **thirty two years**!! Cough!!
May 14, 2013
The storytelling is sometimes confusing and messy, but The French Lieutenant's Woman is widely improved thanks to Meryl Streep compelling and remarkable dual performance as Sarah Woodruff/Sara, and the oustanding visuals and costume design.
½ March 27, 2013
The part of film that is based on the actual book is very well done and quite fascinating, but the part that is the movie company and the actors shooting the movie and carrying on an adulterous affair is contrived and uninteresting. The constant switching back and forth between the two plots also interrupts the flow of the movie and takes away from the passionate mood of the plot that actually came from the novel.
March 8, 2013
a true classic in every sense of the word. sexy, interesting and nice dynamic between past and present. also very good chemistry between meryl streep and jeremy irons.
February 22, 2013
OMG, what an awful movie!
½ December 30, 2012
Directed by Karel Reisz (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) and Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966)), adapted from John Fowles' 1969 novel and adapted by Harold Pinter. This is a moving and lavish period drama with a twist and a parallel. It's a quite original way of telling a story, but it requires attention and it has some lovely performances in it. This tells the story of biologist Charles (Jeremy Irons), who lives in the South of England in the 19th Century, who is engaged to marry Ernestina Freeman (Lynsey Baxter), who is part of a rich dynasty. But when Charles meets the mysterious Sarah (Meryl Streep), who appeared in the coastal town of Lyme Regis out of nowhere one day, his life changes forever and Charles falls in love with Sarah. However, he has to wonder whether to abandon the engagement he has. Meanwhile, we see the story being filmed, with actors Mike (Irons) and Anna (Streep), who have an affair during principal photography, even though they're both married. It is a lavish romance, even through it's been done loads of times before but with the modern day scenes make a good parallel, and it's well filmed and Reisz gets the best. It's success helped get Irons get into cinema and onto Hollywood, and it has a good supporting cast including Peter Vaughn, Leo McKern, Liz Smith and Penelope Wilton.
November 25, 2012
I Just Don't Get What People See in Her

I think the "Meryl Streep is exotic and beautiful and fascinating" phase finally came to an end in 1995 with [i]Bridges of Madison County[/i]. Where, yes, she's a depressed housewife, but a beautiful and fascinating one. Maybe not exotic. But for something like twenty years, there seems to have been this weird belief that there was something about her that just made men fall all over themselves if she gave them a second glance, and I don't get it. It's not that I think she's unattractive, but even at her best-looking, I think she's maybe "wholesome." It's true that, at the time she seems to have first become a standard of female beauty, her male leads were generally best described as "interesting-looking." At [i]his[/i] best-looking, Dustin Hoffman was no Paul Newman. On the other hand, she was also paired in a movie with Robert Redford, so it's only generalities about any of it.

Here, she is Anna, an actress playing a character called Sarah. The actress is having an affair with an actor called Mike (Jeremy Irons), who is playing Charles Henry Smithson. Charles is of means enough so that he is able to merely putter about as a paleontologist. He is, however, engaged to Ernestina (Lynsey Baxter), a young woman whose father's estate, when she--his only child--inherits it--will pay for a lot of poking about among the rocks. They are all in a small town in rural England. Sarah is believed to have been the mistress, some time ago, of a French officer. Since it's the nineteenth century, that doesn't go well for her. At first, Charles just feels kindly toward her, but he rapidly becomes obsessed, though he does not himself seem aware of it. Mike, despite being married, is also in love with Anna, who is also married. We cut back and forth between the story of the actors and the story of the characters, which of course show considerable similarity.

Oh, as I've said before, I'll believe Jeremy Irons acting obsessed with just about anyone or anything. This was his second movie, so that persona wasn't as well developed as it would become in later years, but his reaction has never been a thing to doubt. I know basically nothing about his personal life, but I can believe movies wherein he pursues someone or something to his own destruction, and Meryl Streep is not the least probable of the lot. What's more, as here, he seldom seems in control of his lot. It isn't just that all relationships between people really require the participation of both parties to go any particular way. It's that Jeremy Irons frequently seems in movies to have ceded his share of the responsibility to the other party. He knows how he'd rather things went, but he is so caught up inside his own head that he can't make his wishes understood outside it. He may not quite know what's going on, but he doesn't expect to, either.

It's an interesting concept for a movie, and it is interesting to me how they managed to do two of the three endings that are apparently options in the book. (I haven't read it, but apparently, it encourages us to pick our favourite.) Without giving anything away, let us merely say that Anna and Mike get an ending as well as Sarah and Charles. They must have one. The story isn't complete until all four of its characters reach some sort of conclusion, whether they're satisfied by it or not. And it's something in the nature of a Jeremy Irons character that he will probably never be satisfied, even if he's getting what he thinks he wants. Is Anna who and what Mike wants? Is Sarah who and what Charles wants? I'm not sure either of them would know. I definitely don't think Charles has any way of knowing, given how few options he would have had in his life--though more than Sarah, and certainly more than Ernestina. Mike and Anna have had more chance, but I don't think Mike has a clear view on things anyway.

I'd heard the name of this movie before; it's one of the Meryl Streep movies that cemented her reputation, deserved or not, as an actress. She was nominated for an Oscar here, but she lost to Katharine Hepburn for [i]On Golden Pond[/i], her last. It was the only year they were both nominated. However, until today, I had no idea what the movie was actually about. I think I assumed, perhaps not unreasonably, that Jeremy Irons played the French lieutenant. I've seen him play a French character before, after all, and he is on all the posters. However, not only does the French lieutenant never appear onscreen, he almost doesn't matter. Dr. Grogan (Leo McKern) talks about Sarah's melancholia, but it only barely matters for the purposes of the story what caused it. What matters is that there is something in Sarah's past which controls her future with Charles. I would almost argue that Sarah herself, like the objects of obsession in most Jeremy Irons movies, is a MacGuffin. She is just something for him to ruin his life over.
½ October 29, 2012
Kind of boring. Doesn't really give the actors much to work with.
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