D.H. Lawrence is the author behind such works as Lady Chatterly's Lover, Women in Love and The Rainbow, all of which were quite controversial because of their romantic content and went on to become even more controversial movies at the hands of the director Ken Russell. Back in 1960, one of Lawrence's other works - Sons and Lovers - was adapted for the big screen as a classic black-and-white tale of romance and the happiness and damage that love can bring.
Paul is the young artist son of a disgruntled Northern coalmining father and his estranged wife, who offloads all of the love that she cannot show for her husband onto her son. She loves him so much that she feels that no woman is good enough for him, least of all the local girl, Miriam, who Paul has been friends with for a long time. Their friendship would have probably been much more, were it not for Paul's domineering mother and Miriam's own strange mother, who believes that sex is something that a woman has to 'suffer' for the sake of childbirth.
When the opportunity arises for Paul to leave his coalmining hometown and go to Nottingham to practise his art, he decides to up and go, but a lot changes while he is away. Life for his mother is increasingly difficult with her drunk husband and Miriam finally realises that she may have just let the love of her life go. Needless to say, things get further complicated when Paul finds himself attracted to a woman at his new home, a girl who is separated but not divorced from her estranged husband. Pretty soon you realise that only one of the three important women in his life is going to survive the power-struggle for love, but who will it be?
Jack Cardiff has done a good (and Oscar-winning) job at adapting a very personal work from D.H. Lawrence's feverish mind (this one was reputedly autobiographical). He has some noteworthy cast members on board for the ride as well, with a young Dean Stockwell looking a million miles away from the likes of Blue Velvet or even Quantum Leap, particularly with his proper English accent, in the lead role of Paul. His father is played well by the ever-reliable Trevor Howard, Wendy Miller is particularly convincing as the loving mother, Heather Sears perfects the girl-next-door look and Mary Uwe plays a suitably sexy counterpart love interest.
Sons and Lovers has aged quite well, telling a classic, timeless tale of love in all kinds of shapes and sizes, each equally powerful and consequently destructive. Whether it be a mother loving her son too much, a girlfriend loving in the wrong way or a potential wife not being satisfied by the love that she is offered, this exploration of complex and very familiar relationships will be relevant for all time.
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