The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Romantic Drama, Showbiz Drama  |   Run Time - 127 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , Turkey   |   MPAA Rating - R
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One of England's most highly regarded playwrights, Harold Pinter was deservedly nominated for an Academy Award for his sly, self-reflexive adaptation of The French Lieutenant's Woman. The conundrum for Pinter and director Karel Reisz was how to translate John Fowles' enigmatic novel to the screen without losing the author's blend of the Victorian world with a modern sensibility. They settled upon a movie-within-a-movie structure. The narrative device of having both a "fictionalized" and a "real" component complementing each other is nothing new to dramatists, and it is a favorite trick of the movies as well: to greater or lesser degrees, such films as Children of Paradise, 8 1/2, Le Mepris, and The Last Metro all use such a "meta-fictional" technique. As the two actors playing the two characters, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons manage to keep their respective roles distinctive, yet parallel. Streep was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, her first of six in the 1980s. This was Irons' first major motion picture after making a splash in the TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited.