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The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Year: 1981
Production Co: Juniper Films
Studio: Paramount
Director: Karel Reisz
Writer: Harold Pinter
Cast: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Leo McKern

I'm in the midst of a months-long campaign to see all Meryl Streep's work at the moment, and she's been so prolific there's bound to be missteps like this one. Something attracted her to it, but I can't see what.

She plays an actress playing the part of Sarah, ostracised from village life in the 1800s because everyone assumes she's an adulteress. Jeremy Irons is the actor she's having an affair with, he plays the upstanding biologist who's engaged to another woman but who's almost magnetically drawn to Sarah's melancholy beauty.

The film shows a few scenes of the pair trying to conduct their affair, mindful that the end of the shoot will separate them, and the film within the film, where they've both promised their hearts to other people.

The problem is that neither story is very engaging or interesting. Maybe there was just no emotion – there's hardly a raised voice or a moment of high dramatic stakes anywhere, and in the end all we're watching is to actors having an affair and wondering how they can continue it.

It ends suddenly with nothing being resolved, making it even less interesting.

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