DIRECTOR: JEAN JACQUES ANNAUD
CINEMATOGRAPHY: ROBERT FRAISSE
CAST: Jane March, Tony Leung, Frederic Meininger
BASED ON: Marguerite Duras' work, and narrated in the film by the actress JEANNE MOREAU
MUSIC: Gabriel Yared
SUPER FEATURES: Fabulous music in a wonderful film about innocence, and true love.
Marguerite Duras is not a beginner, when it comes to writing. And the extent, to which she is a good writer, capable of registering her own feelings is proficiently evident in this film.
The film is good. Her writing (almost always the case) is better. And the translating of the book turned out pretty nice, probably because the film is faithful to the sensuality of feelings which Marguerite feels and goes through. Were the film to concentrate more on the physical stuff, with little substance as to the way the young girl felt, the whole thing would have been just another peep show. As it is, one even gets to feel how she felt in the book, which is nice, and a compliment to the level, and understanding, of the director, and the actors involved.
In the 20's and 30's Indochina, a French family is doing the best it can to survive. One day, a free spirit young girl, meets a well to do Chinese man, in a ferry. They get together at his getaway place, where he takes all his mistresses. Their affair is intense, and meaningful, though the young man is tied to his family's wealth, and is not allowed to marry outside of the family's choices, in order to keep the wealth in the family. Their relationship is doomed, but what Marguerite lost in the affair, she gained in inner strength to become a writer of excellent talent. Her main goal was to experience life, and its moments, and she does just that.
And in the end, as the elder Marguerite writes her book, she remembers those days with some care, but a sense of longing for that person. And his letters, fifty years later still are very much in love with her, almost an affair that has never been consumed.
This film is very 'steamy' in that the love scenes are graphic, but tastefully so. It never breaks the plane of innocence, and neither does it flaunt the two lovers for the sake of nudity. The loving is what makes the film. It is reminiscent of Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in the Nicholas Roeg film, where the filming of the whole thing easily shows why so much pornography is garbage.
There are a few other things that add to the quality of this film, notably the music by Gabriel Yared, and the photography of Robert Fraisse. Both allow their feelings to float gently, thus adding a very nice dimension to the film, and the actors. Yared's music is specially beautiful and has a nostalgic quality to it, which helps the film tremendously. Jean Jacques Annaud's direction is very good, and well designed. The film is smooth, and very attractive. Jane March and Tony Leung are the lovers, and the ever special French actress Jeanne Moreau plays Marguerite, even if it is almost all just voice work, as we see a hand write.
LOVELY FILM. ROMANTIC
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