In 1929 French Indochina, a French teenage girl embarks on a reckless and forbidden romance with a wealthy, older Chinese man, each knowing that knowledge of their affair will bring drastic consequences to each other.
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It is French Colonial Vietnam in 1929. A young French girl from a family that is having some monetary difficulties is returning to boarding school. She is alone on public transportation when she catches the eye of a wealthy Chinese businessman. He offers her a ride into town in the back of his chauffeured sedan, and sparks fly. Can the torrid affair that ensues between them overcome the class restrictions and social mores of that time? Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Maugerite Duras. Written by
Cal Lott <email@example.com>
The film is based on the autobiographical novel by French author Marguerite Duras, whose youthful, real life romance with a Chinese man in colonial Vietnam caused a scandal. See more »
Her lover smokes filtered cigarettes in 1929. They were not invented until the mid-'30s and not in common use until the 1950s. See more »
Very early in my life, it was too late. At eighteen it was already too late. At eighteen I aged. This aging was brutal. This aging, I saw it spread over my features, one by one. Instead of being frightened by it, I saw this aging of my face with the same sort of interest I might have taken for example in the reading of a book. That new face I kept it. It's kept the same contours, but its matter is destroyed. I have a destroyed face. Let me tell you again: I'm fifteen and a half. ...
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I continue to be amazed at what works in this huge experiment in the social imagination we call film.
One thing that really impresses me is how one image will stick in your mind. One image around which it seems the whole rest of the project revolves and supports. I usually write IMDb comments very soon after seeing or reseeing a film.
In this case, I was so struck by that one image I resolved to wait three months before commenting. It stuck.
That image is the one which is used in the promotion and presumably is what the filmmaker considers its essence: the 15 year old girl in defiantly non-school clothes with an incongruous man's hat on the ferry. She is observing and consciously observed. It is we who observe her and enjoy her sensuality then and later just as the Chinese observer does. He is our surrogate, defining the strange situation of a being in the wrong place: Chinese being then more of a 'minority' in Vietnam than Europeans.
Exotic ordinariness. Emerging awarenesses as justification for being. No, more: revelling in existence. Transition as destination.
It is odd how charged this one image is, and how competently it justifies the whole project. Just as the lover is left puzzling why, so are we. So are we, and the fact that no easy answer appears is why this sticks so.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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