A poor French teenage girl engages in an illicit affair with a wealthy Chinese heir in 1920s Saigon. For the first time in her young life she has control, and she wields it deftly over her besotted lover throughout a series of clandestine meetings and torrid encounters.
|Release Date||:||February 22, 1992|
|Production Company||:||Renn Productions, films A2, Timothy Burrill Productions, Grai Phang Film Studio|
|Production Countries||:||France, United Kingdom, Viet Nam|
|Writers||:||Gérard Brach, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Marguerite Duras|
|Casts||:||Jane March, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Frédérique Meininger, Arnaud Giovaninetti|
|Plot Keywords||:||male nudity, female nudity, prostitute, sex, based on novel, age difference, opium, shower, lolita, virgin, nudity, arranged marriage, vietnam, underwear, one-sided love, lover, kiss, limousine, wine, fondling, indochina, love, beating, interracial relationship, family relationships, domestic abuse, bully, breast, teenage girl, sexual attraction, loss of virginity, statutory rape, cigarette smoking, crying, chinese, towel, older man younger woman relationship, lust, kissing, voice over narration, desire, car, cult film, face slap, promiscuous woman, sexual awakening, teenage sex, record player, french colony, forbidden romance, 1920s, virginity, defloration, caress, ephebophile, nymphette|
This movie is one of the very few successful attempts at evoking female sexuality and sensuality in a non-obscene way. It's an exploration of the work of the senses, not so much a story with a plot. Therefore, it is unique in the history of cinema. Whereas other movies featuring a young girl and an older lover are mostly playful, ironic or simply intent on breaking a taboo, this movie brings an ode to the senses themselves in a much more subtle way.
Difficult as this may be, Annaud brings us as close as we can get to the atmosphere of love in a colonial and exotic setting. This delicate setting with its many contradictions (race, gender, age) adds to the experience. (A young girl who explores her own sexuality, couldn't dream of a more well-suiting context). In fact, the "colony" herself is a major character in the movie; the colony with her mighty Mekong River, her smells and colors, her strange sounds and her enigmatic people.
On a more metaphoric level, the Colony represents a temporary space, a place where Western people only pass through, a space that cannot be owned forever, a place of love and hate, just like the lovers' relationship. And in the end, the lovers have to go their own way, just like the colonialists have to leave the colony they love.
The movie is poetically slow, and at times becomes an almost ritual repetition of a single act. Precisely therein lies its 'dramatic content'. Add the beautiful cinematography and you have a nice exercise in film.