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 Marguerite Duras. Written by
Cal Lott <email@example.com>
Jane March denied that she and 'Tony Leung Ka Fai' actually made love. (March: "I never had sex with Tony on or off the set. It's as simple as that.") All the sex scenes were done with careful choreography and body doubles. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud falsely implied the sex was real to boost publicity for the film, thus the sex-crazed English tabloid press trumpeted the rumor on its front pages for days, making life so miserable for March and her family that she got physically sick and had a nervous breakdown. March then fled to the Seychelles to escape. Annaud later stated the sex was not real, "At first I was flattered people believed [the sex]. But after that... I stopped doing press in Britain. Of course they didn't have sex." 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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My wife and I were enraptured and thoroughly enjoyed this gem. Deeply evocative and so real that we nearly felt the rain and hot humidity, we were swept along on this unique journey. The external and newsgroup reviews did not ring true for us. Well OK, the characters were very sad and March delivered stilted lines at times, but there was so much magic to see and hear! She sizzled. He struggled. They both yearned for what could not be.
Those harbour and river scenes were no Hollywood set or computer graphics, but just had to be the real thing: Vietnam! The reviews said 'not erotic' and 'like Penthouse'...?!? Just look beneath the surface: even though both characters are trapped in cultural barriers and subsequently repress so many emotions (especially the girl), they escape into the blissfully unreal world of the rented room where emotions run deep albeit confused.
You will not find the usual American 'formula film' composed of glitz, action, intrigue, syrupy sweetness and a predictable ending. Instead here is a film that is complex yet simple, both beautiful and ugly, about separateness and unions, and the sufferings of those who love but cannot love. We were captivated, enchanted. If you are prudish or do not like 'foreign films', then avoid this film. However, if you have ever travelled in Asia, if you love creative cinematography, if you enjoy small subtleties, if you like an insight into the past and a time of strong desires... then see this film! It was refreshing, and we did not want it to end.
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