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
The third time we've seen Marguerite Duras' childhood as a movie and they are all more interesting than her own films - which is not difficult. This is not a great film, though it is remarkable on period. I still prefer René Clement's deeply flawed version and I did enjoy the eroticised L'Amant.
Curiously this is the first one not by a French director and it's a French movie. Huppert is always watchable and, with her character shifted to centre stage, there is an interesting change of emphasis. The final shot of the actual rice paddy is resonant. Jo Van Fleet's version seems to come from another planet.
The picture of Colonial Cambodia here is more convincing, though the things that should be central are sketchy - the ex-school teacher mother's back story, her relationship to the locals, who she is supposed to be protecting.
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