IF LOOKS COULD KILL, BOTH THESE MOVIES WOULD HAVE MURDERED ME. Seriously, get ready for LOOK on LOOKS on LOOKS on LEWKS.
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
Dir: Karel Reisz
Wri: John Fowles (novel), Harold Pinter!! (screenplay)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Very Sexual Eye Contact
It's a movie within a movie? But instead of showing them yelling "cut" or "action" or anything, it's just like you're ACTUALLY watching the movie they're making. At first I thought this was annoying and weird, but about halfway in I realized it was genius, and totally effective at sucking you into the story.
In "real" life, Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep (the stars of the "movie") are lowkey hooking up, but Meryl doesn't want everyone to know because Jeremy is married and has kids, and she has a boyfriend. The whole film literally just pays homage to every actor out there who's ever hooked up with their co-star during the run of a show and regretted it. Who hasn't?
So, "quick" film recap (LOL IMPOSSIBLE THIS MOVIE IS 8 YEARS LONG)
- Movie: Jeremy is a British Fancy Man with an Appropriate Fiancee and Meryl is the New Girl in town with a ~sordid past~
- Meryl goes to live with her bitchy religious aunt, who Does Not Approve of Meryl taking long walks in the woods, which is apparently where everyone goes to bone
Aunt: DO NOT GO IN THE WOODS
Meryl: But I like them
Aunt: THAT'S WHERE ALL THE IMMORALITY HAPPENS WHY WOULD YOU GO THERE
Meryl: Idk, it has a nice view
Sure Meryl, sure.
- Jeremy's socialite fiancee tells him that everyone calls her "The French Lieutenant's Woman" because she supposedly had some very scandalous affair with - you guessed it - an FL (French Lieutenant) who abandoned her here, and now she wanders the woods waiting for him
- Jeremy is intrigued and obviously smitten, and just HAPPENS to go for a stroll in Fuck Me Park, obvs so he can bump into Meryl
- They start chatting in a restrained, repressed, British way
- Jeremy & his fiancee inexplicably decide to have Meryl and her Caunt (Cunty Aunt) over for tea, and Meryl SLIPS HIM A NOTE which is the British version of sexting
- Caunt calls Jeremy a "Disciple of Darwin" because he's a psychotherapist lmao. Also tells him to fire his manservant, who she hears has been walking in Fuck Me Woods; throws some mean shade towards Meryl and basically says if you walk there again You're Cancelled.
- The note informs Jeremy to meet Meryl at the ~graveyard~ that night, definitely for Totally Not Sexy Reasons
*meet in graveyard*
Jeremy: HOW DARE YOU *inches closer* BEHAVE IN SUCH *heavy breathing* A PRESUMPTUOUS *gets a boner* AND UNSCRUPULOUS *jizzes his pants* MANNER
- Okay but for real, I'm barely exaggerating the mad sexual tension in this movie, it's outrageous.
- Meryl tells him that she has a SECRET she MUST CONFESS but NOT HERE it must be IN THE FUCK ME WOODS tomorrow... and it's about THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT
- Then we switch to IRL (in real life), where Jeremy & Meryl are actors boning during production (SUCH A GOOD AND ORIGINAL IDEA LOL). Jer wakes up first, and hears Meryl talking in her sleep... and she says ANOTHER MAN'S NAME (her IRL boyfriend). Aww, poor Jeremy :( #LifeImitatesArt
- So they meet in the woods and Meryl tells him her TERRIBLE SECRET
- She was a governess at this house when there was a shipwreck nearby, and the survivors came to stay at the home. She nursed the FL back to health.
- "I did not know back then that men could be both very brave and very false." Mm girl, same.
- She nursed him back to health and then he left her to go back to France. She fell into a great depression and followed him... but when she got there, she could tell that he had changed. She knew in five minutes what he was, but she stayed anyway.
* "I was an amusement for him, nothing more."
* "My innocence was false from the moment I chose to stay."
* "I did it so I should never be seen the same again."
* "I married shame."
* "I knew I wasn't like normal women, so I did something to make it so."
- Jeremy talks to his mentor (who might actually be Darwin? Lol) and he's like "we must cure her of this depression." Subtext: "With my PENIS." Darwin low key wants to put her in an asylum??
- Meryl very obviously walks out of the forest by one of her Caunt's friends, gets herself kicked out, and runs away (probably to Fuck Me Woods).
"I have fallen in love with being a victim of fate. Enter a young god. Intelligent, good looking, kind. My one weapon is the pity I inspire on him. So what do I do? I seize my chance. One day I go walking in the woods where I've been forbidden to walk, show myself obviously where I'll be seen and my employer will hear of it, who will obviously dismiss me. I then disappear, under the strong presumption that it is to throw myself off the cliffs... Then, when it is in extremis, I cry to my savior for help." - Darwin to Jeremy, regarding Meryl. Also literally me in high school lol.
- So Jeremy goes looking for Meryl and finds her sleeping VERY SEXILY in an abandoned barn in Fuck Me Woods. They FINALLY KISS AND IT IS VERY HOT.
Jer: CONTROL YOURSELF
Meryl: I CANNOT
*hard making out*
- Jeremy & Meryl totally get caught making out by Jeremy's Manservant the chick he's come into Fuck Me Woods to bone. Oops!
- JEREMY'S LITERAL RESPONSE IS: "I HAVE BEEN SENT HERE TO HELP HER BY THE PHYSICIAN." LMAOOOOOOOOOOOO NICE TRY JER.
- Jeremy gives her $$ and helps her escape to some little sexy motel halfway to London.
- He then lies to his fiancee and tells her he needs to "go to London on business." MmmHMM.
- His Manservant totally blackmails him for $$ so he won't tell the fiancee about Meryl, but also low key threatens to quit because of Jeremy's questionable morals. Mighty high talk for a guy that bangs Maids in the woods, but whatever.
- Jeremy goes to the motel Meryl is at and THEY FINALLY HAVE SEX.
- AND TBH, AFTER 1.5 HOURS OF SEXUAL TENSION, IT IS AN ENORMOUS LET DOWN.
- SERIOUSLY, ONE OF THE WORST SEX SCENES EVER CAPTURED ON FILM.
- And I honestly can't tell if it was intentional?
- First of all, it literally takes Jeremy like a solid 60 seconds to get ALL of his 4000 layers of Fancy British Man clothes off, while Meryl is just lying on the bed waiting for him awkwardly. Then the closed captions literally said "MOANS IN PAIN" when he finally gets inside of her. Several thrusts later, and we're done????????? Boooooo.
- At least the "moans in pain" is explained when we find out that MERYL HAS BEEN A VIRGIN THIS WHOLE TIME. SHE NEVER HAD SEX WITH THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT, HE TOTALLY DUMPED HER IN FRANCE. *pikachu face*
- Jeremy seems to be totally smitten with this blatant lie Meryl has told him, and decides to go back to his fiancee, break up with her, shame his name forever, then return back to the motel to start his new shame-stained life with Meryl.
- He comes back to the motel and MERYL IS GONE. WITHOUT A TRACE. What a bitch.
- Jeremy totally gets his name dragged in the mud and basically has his life ruined. He even wanders around the Fancy British Man Red Light District, and follows a whore with red hair that sort of looks like Meryl. Sad. :(
- IRL, the movie is starting to wrap, and Meryl is like "yeah we have to go back to our normal lives now" and Jeremy is VERY sad about it.
- IRL, Jeremy & Meryl have what can only be described as THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE CAST PARTY EVER at Jeremy's house. Meryl actually talks to his wife while his kids are running around, and tells her how much she envies her and her... "garden." And how she wishes she could grow a.... "garden."
- GARDEN IS A METAPHOR FOR FAMILY. MERYL IS SAD.
- Jeremy also has a tense run-in with Meryl's boyfriend, who asks him how the movie is going to end... because the movie they're making is based on a book and the book has TWO ENDINGS! A happy one and a sad one! Jeremy says he doesn't know which one the director has chosen yet. Meta as FUCK.
- Back in the movie, THREE YEARS HAVE PASSED. Jeremy is a haggard, depressed old man still desperately searching for Meryl. Finally, a telegram arrives: SHE'S BEEN FOUND. Living under a new name as a governess somewhere.
- Jeremy goes to the home and confronts her.
Meryl: There was a madness in me. A bitterness. An envy. I forced myself on you knowing you had other obligations. It was unworthy. I suddenly saw after you had gone that I had to destroy what had begun between us.
Jeremy: Are you saying that you never loved me?
Meryl: I could not say that.
Jeremy: But you must say that! You must say "I am totally evil. I used him as an instrument. That he has sacrificed everything for me!" Say it!
Meryl: No, no!
- Blah blah blah they argue and make out, which is kind of their thing, and then she hops in his adorable little gondola and they sail away together.
- BUT BACK IN REAL LIFE... they're at the wrap party, which is happening in the same house they filmed the last scene of the "movie" in, and Meryl just up and LEAVES WITHOUT SAYING GOODBYE TO JEREMY AT ALL.
- JEREMY TRIES TO CHASE HER OUT BUT SHE'S GONE. FOREVER.
- AND HE JUST SITS DOWN ALONE IN THE ROOM WHERE THEY REUNITED IN THE MOVIE BUT IT'S "REAL LIFE" AND HE IS ALL ALONE.
- IT IS SO SAD.
- AND THAT'S THE FUCKING END OF THE MOVIE.
Now, for the contender:
Still of the Night (1982)
Dir/Wri: Robert Benton (Kramer v. Kramer, Bonnie & Clyde, Superman I)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Roy Sheider
What a dated movie. I can only imagine that back in '82, this was a banger. Today it was... pretty forgettable, tbh. Like maybe it would've made a better play?
- The "We're gonna need a bigger boat" guy from Jaws (Roy Sheider) is a psychiatrist, who has just found out that one of his patients has been MURDERED
- Meryl stops by Roy's office to give him a watch that the Dead Guy left at her apartment, asking if he can return it to the grieving widow for her... because she was the Dead Guy's Assistant and also his MISTRESS
- Meryl feels bad about being his MISTRESS and doesn't want the wife to find out, and also doesn't want to get involved with the POLICE because of her TRAGIC PAST
- A DETECTIVE comes to visit the psychiatrist's office which makes Meryl nervous - she accidentally breaks some trinket on his desk - so Roy helps sneak Meryl out, for literally no other reason except that she's hot and he probably wants to bang her
- The Dead Guy was also fucking his Former Assistant (he had a type)
- Can't emphasize this enough: dead guy is overweight, balding, and unattractive. And we're supposed to believe that Meryl In Her Prime was into this dude?? Um no.
- We start getting these flashbacks from Roy, remembering his therapy sessions with George. George tells him about knowing a woman who MURDERED someone in her past, and being AFRAID of her but also TURNED ON BY HER. All signs point to Meryl and her INTENSE EYE CONTACT.
- We then find out in a flashback that George used to refer to Meryl as "Roy's Girlfriend" in his therapy sessions, said the two had a lot in common? Weird?? But also low key planted the seed in Roy's head that he and Meryl belong together?
- Meryl stops by the Psychiatrist's APARTMENT (how does she know where he lives??) to give him a new desk trinket gift, to replace the one she accidentally broke. SEXUAL TENSION & LOOKS.
- Roy has dinner with his mom, JESSICA FREAKING TANDY, and talks about his former patient George. He remembers this VERY INTENSE DREAM George had, and asks for her help dissecting it. Seriously, they even use a fucking chalkboard and make notes about it like it's a goddamn CSI episode, it's actually sort of funny.
- But for real, this dream is easily the BEST PART OF THE MOVIE. Because it is SO FUCKING FUCKED UP.
- The dream starts with George going down this driveway to a house covered in greenery. There's a cat on the roof and a bell by the door, he accidentally hits it on his way in. He goes inside the house and there's a small green jewelry box (Tiffany's?) on a shelf, he puts it in his pocket. He turns around and sees a little girl sitting on a chair VERY SEDUCTIVELY (????), holding a teddy bear. The little girl then TEARS OUT THE TEDDY BEAR'S EYE, and it begins to bleed all over her and onto the floor, where we notice what is 100% A GIANT VAGINA CARPET???????? George gets freaked out and starts to casually walk away, but the little girl follows him. He panics, and goes inside a secret door that leads to a staircase. He runs upstairs and is in a little room. The jewelry box falls out of his pocket (??), he turns around, BAM THE LITTLE GIRL IS RIGHT BEHIND HIM. It is terrifying.
So OBVIOUSLY (according to Jessica Tandy), this is how dreams work:
Box = woman
Green = jealousy
Little girl = someone you think is childlike and innocent and harmless
Ripping out eyeball = she is NOT childlike or innocent or harmless
Vagina carpet = ????
In conclusion, there is a JEALOUS WOMAN in George's life who he used to think was CHILDLIKE and INNOCENT and HARMLESS but now he's LOST CONTROL OF HER and is afraid for his life. And also vaginas are just always on his mind, probably.
- At this point I have to mention that Meryl is noticeably using what I call her "Soft Voice." I'm beginning to see she has about 3 voices (not counting accents, of course): her real voice, her deeper voice, and her softer voice. Throughout the whole movie she is so childlike and girlish, constantly touching her hair (#CybillShepherdHair), lots of furtive glances and darting eyes, very fragile looking. We've seen her vulnerable before (Kramer v. Kramer, Deer Hunter), but this is a new brand of Soft Meryl.
- One night, Roy is out walking and brooding when he sees Meryl leave the museum where she works. He follows her into Central Park, out of curiosity... then ends up under a bridge where he gets MUGGED. The mugger takes his wallet, watch, and coat.
- The next day, the Detective comes banging on Roy's door because someone has been STABBED TO DEATH IN CENTRAL PARK, WEARING ROY'S COAT!!! Detective is now certain that it's the same WOMAN who stabbed George to death, and that Roy is NEXT!!!
- Roy visits Meryl at her apartment to ask her some questions... and instead gets to see some SIDE BOOB ACTION
- Since Meryl is ~busy~ getting a massage, he decides to visit her later at work.
- While there, he meets her other coworkers, two very spinster-y looking chicks named Gail and Heather. They all seem to kind of hate Meryl for being so pretty (and for murdering George, probably)
- There's a big auction going on. Jeremy goes looking for Meryl in her office, and accidentally walks in on her being VERY SUSPICIOUS with some papers in a locked drawer of her desk.
- She's acting weird. They go down to the auction together. Wait, didn't he come here to ask her questions? Whatever.
- At the auction, Meryl DROPS HER KEYS. Roy picks them up, and while Meryl is busy being an auctioneer person, he sneaks back to her office to rummage through her secret desk drawer.
- In the drawer, he finds some MYSTERIOUS NEWSPAPERS about how Meryl was involved in a VIOLENT MURDER back in Italy!!!
- Meryl catches him snooping!! She's real mad, bro!
- Roy goes back to the auction, feels terrible, wants to get back on her good side - again, all signs are pointing to Meryl being the murderer, so this is obviously just because Roy wants to bang her
- The Detective shows up looking for Meryl, so Roy has to bid $10,000 on an item so he can get Meryl's attention and warn her to sneak out because the police are coming?! Okay Roy, obsessed much?
- After the auction, Roy is looking desperately for Meryl but can't find her. He bumps into her frizzy coworker, Gail, and says he's looked everywhere for her but she's not at home or the museum or anywhere. Gail is all like, "Ohhh, she'll kill me for doing this, but she does have a home up Long Island, she's probably there!" I mean good thing Roy isn't the murderer, because that seems like a weird thing to just tell somebody.
- So Roy goes to the home on Long Island, and IT'S THE SAME HOME FROM GEORGE'S CREEPY ASS DREAM, OH NO
- Meryl is inside, smoking in the dark, like a MURDERER
- She then gives a 10 minute monologue, outside on a porch, for no apparent reason except #drama
- We learn that Meryl was an heiress and when her mother died unexpectedly in her 20s, Meryl received a posthumous letter from her saying that her dad was an asshole after their $. Meryl then *accidentally* murdered her father, who seemed to be running for her on top of this church in Italy? Anyway she was scared and they got physical and the dad accidentally fell off the building, and Meryl has felt guilty about it ever since, and she has NO IDEA who those newspapers got into her desk at work, but someone is trying to FRAME HER for murder.
- Somehow, Roy figures out instantly who the murder is: IT'S GAIL, THE FRIZZY COWORKER!
Meryl: Wait, how did you find me here?
Roy: Your frizzy coworker told me.
Meryl: You mean the one you just realized is the murderer?
Roy: I think we should leave.
- TOO LATE, FRIZZY IS IN ROY'S CAR AND STABS HIM
- Meryl's in the house running away from Frizzy, and GUESS WHERE THEY END UP
- YEP, ON THE GODDAMN BALCONY
- Frizzy runs at Meryl, Meryl *accidentally* tosses her over the edge just like she did with her dad.
- Frizzy dies.
- Meryl & Roy make out. Hard.
While Meryl did a pretty great job in another very mediocre movie, her performance in "Still of the Night" just doesn't even COMPARE to the LAYERS on LAYERS on LAYERS going on in "French Lieutenant's Woman." She's a mess of a woman figuring herself out, a misunderstood virgin who is role-playing a whore, while simultaneously portraying an ACTRESS who is PORTRAYING that CHARACTER. It's super meta and I loved every one of its 800 minutes.
SO the winner of Bracket #5 is... THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN #EmoMeryl