The French Lieutenant's Woman

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Facts and Figures

Run time: 124 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th October 1981

Box Office Worldwide: $2.7M

Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment

Reviews 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew



Starring: as Sarah, as Charles Henry Smithson, as Mike, as Sam, as Mary, as Mrs. Tranter, as Ernestina, as Sonia

Also starring: ,

The French Lieutenant's Woman Review

If you can remember anything about this 1981 movie, it's probably the image of Meryl Streep standing at the end of a pier, threatened to be blown into the sea by a horrendous storm.

Now released on DVD, the complicated tale of The French Lieutenant's Woman tells us of a 19th century English woman named Sarah (Streep), a woman who finds herself at the bottom of the social strata because she has had an affair (and been tossed aside) by a French military officer. When an engaged biologist named Charles (Jeremy Irons) encounters her on that pier, he becomes immediately entranced, and soon they are engaged in an affair.

But wait, there's more! Because in the modern day, we discover a pair of actors (Streep and Irons again) who are starring in the lead roles of Sarah and Charles for the movie about their lives. And wouldn't you know it: they also embark on a very similar affair, two centuries later.

Overblown and totally full of itself, it's hard to really like Lieutenant's very much. Every character has a passionate soliloquy in every scene, to the point where characters don't talk to each other -- they talk to the camera instead. Charles's infatuation with Sarah doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but the modern day actors are just two typical Hollywood types, bed hopping for the hell of it. It's lushly photographed and filled with a dripping score of string duets -- all of which fits the bill nicely but doesn't really offer anything new.

Incidentally, the novel and especially the film are known as an inspiration of the modern Goth movement -- the idea of the very pale woman with questionable morals who draws dark self-portraits and is outcast by society. Guess you gotta have a role model.


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The French Lieutenant's Woman Rating

" OK "