French Indochina, 1931. In the Gulf of Siam, a Widow and her two children, Joseph, 2o, and Suzanne, 16, barely survive by exploiting rice fields located much too close to the ocean. Every year their crops are flooded and their only hope lies in the construction of a seawall. The mother refuses to give up and desperately battles both the sea and the corrupt colonial bureaucrats ... Written by
This is a costume drama of solid but very routine production values. The theme is anti-colonialism. The French colonial authorities are shown as corrupt and oppressive and the colonist family at the centre of the narrative is economically hopeless and morally degenerate. Isabelle Huppert is a slightly crazy and clueless head of a family whose only assets reside in the sexual allure of its teenage son and daughter. These assets are exploited in an attempt to save the family's fortunes. They are an unlikeable bunch although some nuance is generated by Huppert who injects a little humanity into her character. The film feels slow-paced and over long and do we really need another anti-colonial tract?
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