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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>
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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The Lover is not just a movie, it is sensual, breathtaking and intimate sometimes bordering on voyeurism. From the outset the scenery directs the action taking the viewer into a world of a young girl and a Chinese man that embark on a doomed love affair in 1929 Colonial Vietnam. Jane March plays the young 15 year old 'girl'. That is all we know of her as she stands on the front of a ferry cruising the Mekong Dekta. She dressed in a cheap short sleeved dress, straw hat and high heels and heavily rouged lips that belie her age. She is on her way back to a girls' school in Saigon when she is first 'seen'. The second time she is summoned to a black sedan where she meets The Chinaman, smouldering Tony Leung, sitting in the back seat of the car attired elegantly in a tailored white suit. He offers her a ride to her school where a simple, impulsive kiss on the window leads to a frustrating passionate love story laced with cultural misunderstandings. This movie is fueled right from the start with sexual tension. March and Leung are perfect as the two nameless leads who are taken on this journey of first discovery, through latent but palpable lust, then finally to ruin. She cannot love him and he cannot commit without betraying his family's honour and heritage. She will be nothing but his lover, never his wife. I felt a deep sadness for these people, their isolation evident as they silently scream for their individuality in a world that will not accept either of them together, or apart. Jean-Jacques Annaud has done for The Lover what he did for The Bear and The Name of the Rose, gave us characters that are haunting and memorable. The cinematography here is sparse, pale so as to give the story a poignant futility. Gabriel Yared's score is sensual almost brutally so as these characters' bodies come together while their souls never connect. This movie is not for the faint of heart. It IS sexual. The scenes border on artful pornography. Annaud never quite goes that far as to allow it to delve into hard-core, but the scenes are hard to watch. They are so intimate that we believe the leads are making love before our eyes...but we are compelled to watch, transfixed by the intimacy. Throughout we are reminded of the toll the affair has had on the young girl with the tremulous grosgrain narration of the always excellent Jeanne Moreau. She underscores the events and emotions of the sometimes perversely detached lead character. The Lover is based partly on the life of Marguerite Duras of whom March's young girl is almost a dead-ringer. Annaud imbues this story with every emotional nuance forcing us to use its characters as a mirror of our own hidden desires. This is a movie that made me long for what is hidden deep within my secret heart...and a little afraid of what I might find there.
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