"visually impressive, sweeping film that evokes memories of Casablanca and Gone With The Wind by pitting a romantic drama at the forefront of a world at war"
Having been recently selected to play as part of the Cannes Classics last year, Regis Wargnier’s 1991 oscar-winning romantic epic gets a re-release on DVD and Blu-Ray on 2nd January.
It’s a visually impressive, sweeping film that evokes memories of Casablanca and Gone With The Wind by pitting a romantic drama at the forefront of a world at war and for a film that is nearly thirty years old, it has barely aged at all. This could be down to the fact it was set in the past when it was made and the 4k restoration, but you certainly feel you’re watching a film that could easily have been made recently.
Opening in the French colony Indochina, Southeast Asia in 1930, Elaine (Catherine Deneuve) runs a rubber plantation while raising her adopted daughter Camille (Linh Dan Pham). When a young French naval officer named Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Perez) arrives, their world is turned upside down when both Elaine and the Camille fall in love with him.
Over the years which lead from the early developments of World War Two to Indochina’s independence from France in 1954 and subsequently the beginning of the conflict in Vietnam, the characters’ lives are played out and develop amongst the sexual politics of the time while the film makes astute observations on colonialism.
It’s slow-burning at times with the romantic melodrama (s) being overplayed leading to some contrived plot developments but the dramatic final act ratchets up the tension leading to a somewhat unpredictably downbeat conclusion.
The performances are universally excellent and the cinematic use of the locations make it a visually stunning film that, all in all, should certainly serve fans of the genre and French cinema and history well.
For many, it may even be something of a undiscovered gem and the re-release will subsequently be more than welcome.