The Netflix adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover is getting subscribers… a little worked up.
The movie is based on D. H. Lawrence’s classic novel of the same name and has drawn comparisons with the likes of 50 Shades of Grey and 365 Days. But the key difference is that while Lady Chatterley’s exploits may veer on the scandalous side, the smut appears to be backed up by strong characters and well-considered filmmaking.
It’s not just critics that are impressed either, viewers are also quite taken with Lady Chatterley. The movie has rocketed into the Netflix most-watched list. It currently ranks at No.3 only behind Troll and Brad Pitt action-movie Bullet Train. And could be set to climb higher in the coming days.
What is Lady Chatterley’s Lover about?
Based on D. H. Lawrence’s classic novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover follows the eponymous character, a woman born into wealth and privilege, as she begins a torrid affair with the lower class gamekeeper who maintains her estate. Over the course of this passionate relationship, she discovers a whole new level of intimacy and decides to break the traditions of the day in order to find true happiness with her new lover.
The original novel was hugely controversial upon its release in the 1920s for its disregard of societal conventions and its graphical sexual content. In fact, it was subsequently banned for obscenity in both the U.S. and U.K. among other countries including Canada, India and Australia. This only resulted in more interest and when it was eventually published unedited decades later it became an instant bestseller.
This Netflix-produced adaptation is far from the first time the novel has been converted into a movie, and it’s also formed the basis for multiple TV shows and inspired several theatre productions as well. In this latest retelling of the story Emma Corrin plays Lady Chatterley and Jack O'Connell plays Oliver Mellor (aka her lover).
What do critics think of Lady Chatterley’s Lover?
As noted, while its mature content has drawn some comparison with other saucy films like 50 Shades, Lady Chatterley’s Lover has broken from convention and been surprisingly well received by critics. The film currently scores 88% on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, which is enough to earn it a “certified fresh” seal.
Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian notes that “Lady Chatterley still has the power to move," while Entertainment Weekly’s Leah Greenblatt was similarly enthusiastic, writing: “An unabashedly heady romance, rich in pretty costumes — when they're wearing them — and lush, lusty atmosphere." Kevin Maher of The Times was also a fan, labeling the film “immensely subtle and moving.”
Although, not all critics were as taken with Lady Chatterley. Tomiwa Owolade of New Statesman said: “This adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover is not terrible; it is too polished for that. But there is nothing at stake.” And they also questioned the necessity of another adaptation so soon after the BBC’s well-received TV show in 2015 (which even found its way onto Netflix in select regions).
In a pleasant turn of events, critics and viewers seem to mostly agree on this one. Lady Chatterley’s Lover has managed a respectable 82% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, although its less impressive 6.8 on IMDb suggests that some viewers aren’t quite as enamored with the movie.
The film is also going down a storm on social media. The so-called “film Tik-Tok” community is having a field day with the raunchy material, as is Twitter. It’s Jack O’Connell that is drawing the most attention with several viewers reaching out to Netflix to thank the streamer for his casting. Although Emma Corrin has also earned plenty of admirers for their portrayal of the titular Lady Chatterley.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover — stream or skip?
Fans of Netflix period dramas like Bridgerton and The Empress will definitely want to stream Lady Chatterley’s Lover as soon as possible. But the narrative’s themes are a little broader and remain fairly timeless so the movie could appeal to a wider audience. It should also go without saying that readers of the original novel are likely to be pleased with this adaptation, even if a few plot points have been slightly tweaked.
Prospective viewers should be warned that Lady Chatterley’s Lover contains graphic sexual content and plenty of mature themes. It’s certainly not one for younger viewers, and it’s probably not going to be a suitable pick for family movie night. We also advise against watching with your parents, otherwise, you better prepare for a very uncomfortable two hours.
Overall, there are plenty of reasons to give Lady Chatterley’s Lover a chance. Its source material has endured for decades for a very good reason. And it seems that director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre has done a fantastic job with this latest adaptation. It’s not necessarily been the strongest year for original movies on Netflix, but the streamer appears to be capping off the year with a bang.
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Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.