The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

Directed by
Karel Reisz

Adapted from the John Fowles' novel by Harold Pinter,

This superb film details the appalling and scandalous romance between a gentleman biologist called Charles Smithson (Jeremy Irons), and a 'tainted' outcast woman called Sarah Woodruff (Meryl Streep) in Victorian England.

At Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast, a young Victorian amateur palaeontologist, Charles Smithson, is intrigued by a solitary female figure standing at the far end of the Cobb dressed in a long black hooded robe.

Sarah is a melancholy woman, known to the locals as "poor tragedy". Sarah sketches spooky self-portraits, always dresses in black and haunts the sea wall (known as "The Cobb") waiting for the return of a Frenchman who seduced and abandoned her many years previously. This melancholy makes her leave Charles after a short, but passionate affair.

The story also covers the filming's affects on the two contemporary actors Anna and Mike, who play the characters of Sarah and Charles, during the shooting of the film, through a relationship that runs parallel to that of their characters.

Set in the beautiful and scenic Dorset seaside town known as The Pearl of Dorset, Lyme Regis - the actor's part of the story is filmed within "The Royal Lion Hotel" which is still a working hotel today.

Written by ,

Genre: Film

Production Year: 1981

3/5 Stars

Classification: 15 Certificate

Production Country: UK

Filmed in Colour


Image for Meryl StreepMeryl Streep...Sarah/Anna
Image for Jeremy IronsJeremy Irons...Charles/Mike
Hilton McRae...Sam
Emily Morgan...Mary
Charlotte Mitchell...Mrs. Tranter
Lynsey Baxter...Ernestina
Jean Faulds...Cook
Image for Peter VaughanPeter Vaughan...Mr. Freeman
Colin Jeavons...Vicar
Image for Liz SmithLiz Smith...Mrs. Fairley
Patience Collier...Mrs. Poulteney
John Barrett...Dairyman
Leo McKern...Dr. Grogan
Arabella Weir...Girl on undercliff
Benjamin Forster...Boy on undercliff