MOVIE – Essay Example
Movie Critique The Lover The film The Lover is based on the coming of age novel of the same by French Marguerite Duras. The suggests that the subject will be the young heroine’s lover, a Vietnamese man older and much wealthier than she is, but in fact the story is told from the point of the view of the unnamed young woman. As the film unfolds it becomes clear that there is an underlying message that is deeper than the surface romance : it is an existentialist piece about the fate of human beings cast adrift in a world without family, without homeland and without the love of other human beings.
The opening scene of the film is set on a ferry crossing a river in the former French colony of Vietnam. The heroine appears in a large rather masculine summer hat, which contrasts in age and gender terms with the rest of her skimpy outfit. There is something reminiscent of Lolita about the way the camera lingers on her face and her figure. The girl meets the lover of the title and they have a relationship which is condemned by both families. Ironically, in the post colonial context, the main reason is that he is too wealthy and high status to consider marriage to a poor young European woman. He takes advantage of her in much the same way that France took advantage of Vietnam in the colonial period.
The film appears to follow a traditional ill-fated romance track, and ends with the girl returning to Europe alone. While the book allows the narrator from time to time to indulge in an excursus on philosophical points, the film relies on cinematography to convey the isolation and abandonment of the main character. She stands on the ferry alone, with waving families beside her and a bustling harbor fading into the distance. As the boat drifts out to sea, a large black plume of smoke belches out from the ship’s funnel and obscures the visual connection between the boat and the land, the girl and her lover, the present from the past. A cut is made to the open sea, where the huge boat sits in the distance, as if to signify the loss of contact with past, and future.
The film succeeds on two levels. First, it faithfully transfers to film the spirit of the Duras novel, even though it fails to mirror the novel’s complex flashback and flash forward shifts, and secondly, it brings home to a late twentieth century audience in an accessible and highly visual way, the disillusionment of early and mid twentieth century Europeans, their displacement in the post colonial world, and their existentialist discomfort in a world where there is no home, no such thing as “happy ever after” and an uncertain future sailing out to sea.
Boggs, J., and Petrie,D. (2008) The Art of Watching Films. (Ashford Custom 7th
Edition) Mountain View, CA.
Duras, M. (1985) The Lover New York: Random House, 111-112. Print.
The Lover (1992) dir. by J. J. Annaud. Starring Jean March and Tony Leung. MGM.