Sons and Lovers (1960)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Erotic Drama, Family Drama  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - UK  |  
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Hailed with excellent reviews upon its release, Sons and Lovers has lost much of its power and freshness over the years. While still a good -- at times very good -- film, it is not as startling as it was in 1960, when even the Code-approved version raised eyebrows. The film is a respectful adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel, but it somtimes feels too respectful; there's an air of "this is important literature" about it, which dampens its effectiveness. Jack Cardiff's direction is uneven, but for the most part effective; he's especially good with the moments of erotic attraction and in framing the telling character details that provide a richness to much of the work. He gets sensational work from almost the entire cast, with Trevor Howard standing out for his superlative, bold but finely nuanced performance. Wendy Hiller is close behind him, etching a portrait of a complex woman filled with both love and fear, and Dean Stockwell conveys the sensitivity essential to the role. The production as a whole has a beautiful look to it, with detailed art direction and stunning cinematography. If Sons as a movie is not the classic that it is as a book, it is still a moving and worthwhile experience.