Tuesday, September 13, 2005


1993 Oscar Winner Best Foreign Language Film

Dir: Regis Wargnier (East-West, A French Woman)

Catherine Deneuve is a wealthy plantation owner in French occupied Vietnam. When she and her adopted native daughter fall for the same mysterious Navy officer, the family becomes drawn into the revolutionary movement and must reckon with its own colonial status.

What a beautiful movie. The operatic love story, set against the crumbling French empire, is grand and moving and deep. The ruminations on colonialism and resistance are fresh and complex. And the actors are all electric; the passion and power of the storyline is conveyed in every single scene.

A big budget movie, the sets and locations are equally stunning. Lots of careful attention to the local culture and the ways it works around the dominance of the occupiers. The feel of it is very "Hollywood Epic." Sort of like The English Patient (yes, I know, not Hollywood) or Doctor Zhivago. But the writing is right out of EM Forster. Call it "A Passage to Vietnam." All of these comparisons are compliments, as the film stands tall in the proud tradition of the romantic epic.

The ending is entirely satisfying and heartbreaking. Throughout the entire film I found it believable and insightful. I highly recommend the film. I really loved it.