Women in Love (2011) (DVD)
Two sisters navigate the vagaries of love in the BBC's distinctly feminist adaptation of two D.H. Lawrence novels, The Rainbow
and Women in Love
. Ursula Brangwen (Rachael Stirling, The Bletchley Circle
), a schoolteacher who has just broken off with her self-centered fiancé, lives with her parents in Nottingham, while Gudrun (Rosamund Pike, Pride & Prejudice
), an artist, lives the bohemian life--cigarettes, trousers, and casual sex--in London. Both women want what they can't have and dare to speak out for their desires: for Ursula, it's a sexually satisfying relationship, and for Gudrun, it's the love of a married man. They take after their mother (Saskia Reeves), who regrets the lack of passion in her marriage with their father (Shaun Acker). "Find love," she advises Ursula, "that burns your very soul."
Their experiences find male counterpoint in two figures that play more significant roles in the miniseries' second half: industrialist Gerald Crich (Joseph Mawle), a ladies' man, and school inspector Rupert Birkin (Rory Kinnear), a more sensitive type. After they return from World War I, Gerald sets his sights on Gudrun, who resists his advances; and Rupert pines for Ursula, except Hermione (Olivia Grant), a former lover, keeps getting in the way. If one union revolves around sex, the other does not (at times, Rupert seems more interested in men). Though the miniseries was made for television, Miranda Bowen directs Lawrence with as little inhibition as Ken Russell, whose theatrical version produced an instantly infamous naked wrestling scene between Oliver Reed and Alan Bates--and an Oscar for Glenda Jackson. If more restrained in some respects, this especially cinematic production makes miraculous use of its South African locations and features strong language and similarly explicit nudity involving the primary characters. Ursula sums things up best when she tells Gudrun, "Men cannot define you." --Kathleen C. Fennessy