A poor French teenage girl engages in an illicit affair with a wealthy Chinese heir in 1920s Saigon. For the first time in her young life she has control, and she wields it deftly over her besotted lover throughout a series of clandestine meetings and torrid encounters.
A movie that not only functions as a solid scarefest but a razor-sharp satire.
... View More
Excellent and certainly provocative... If nothing else, the film is a real conversation starter.
... View More
There are moments in this movie where the great movie it could've been peek out... They're fleeting, here, but they're worth savoring, and they happen often enough to make it worth your while.
... View More
I thought it was an alright movie but I didn't quite like the fact, Jane March as the young girl wasn't that bothered to have sex with the Chinaman. She seemed to be quite hesitant and not at all confident for a young actress. I know she was nearly 18 at the time but for god sakes, they should've gotten a better actress that would be confident in doing the scenes with Tony Ka Fai Leung. I also didn't like the fact her character didn't have the same feelings for the guy because this really is meant to be a romance movie. Instead she just doesn't want to fall in love with him. It's really disappointing, I expected that she would say " I love you" back a lot but she just didn't. The sex scene's were very good and realistic. I have to say, it was an alright movie but it did let me down with a couple of things that needed to happen throughout!
... View More
Marguerite Duras' autobiographical recount of a forbidden amour fou in 1929 French Indochina, between a fifteen-and-a-half-year-old French girl (March) and a Chinese man (Leung) twice her age. This film adaptation is beautifully shot by DP Robert Fraisse, for its stunning exotic scenery and erotic lovemaking intimacy, who earned the film the sole Oscar nomination.THE LOVER is director Jean-Jacques Annaud's sixth feature, four years after his animalistic faux- documentary THE BEAR (1988), a theme he would re-trace in TWO BROTHERS (2004) with tigers. Here, Annaud brilliantly lays the stress on the human's most primitive libido over the opposite sex in this immoral passion act, the sex scenes are the most notorious takeaway of the film, they are artistically graphic and starkly intense, but also shimmers with a tint of obscurity under the shadowy light of the so-called "bachelor room", where their trysts take place. Their sex attractions are alike, the vast differences of the opposite sexes between two cultures, two races and an upended social classes (she is from a poor French family where her widow mother works as a local French teacher in a shabby town, whereas he is a layabout who has an affluent father and a family business to take over) makes room for the story to develop in this manner.Annaud is also no stranger to the Chinese soil, he would shoot SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET in 1997, which for political reason along with the director himself, was banned in China; nevertheless, his latest work WOLF TOTEM (2015), a Chinese-French co-production based on a popular Chinese novel is a huge box-office performer this year, one-time even selected as the Chinese entry for the upcoming Oscar's foreign picture race (which was denied by the academy since its co-production status). In THE LOVER, his treatment of the Chinese man is slightly different from Duras' words, his inferior masculinity is moderately muffled by a veil of oriental politeness and endurance, especially when encountering the provocation of the girl's brash elder brother (Giovaninetti). But, when he is alone with the girl, a contradicted struggle between love and trade torments him and soon his weakness lays bare completely when he succumbs to opium and complies to the family-arranged marriage, but a final advent of the black limousine does suggest his futile but lingering attachment in their liaison. 1992 is such a banner year for Tony Ka Fai Leung, currently has three leading performances in my year's top 10 list, his portrayal here establishes a disarming mien as "the lover", a man whose job is to love, nothing else, incapable of changing his or his lover's fate.Accompanied by Jeanne Moreau's resonant voice-over, reciting Duras' segments of texts throughout, mainly we are channeled into the girl's perspective of the affair, her precocious nature and non-conformist behaviour, all through, in spite of her poverty-ridden background, she is the one monopolises the higher standing in this romance, ascribed to the self-imposed superiority of a colonist, even during their first sexual intercourse, she makes the first move. Tangibly, there is something morally sickening in the colonised land, apart from their blatant interracial sex trade. Such a formidable role proves to be a double-edged sword for the débutante Jane March, whose comely but aloof pretence matches the character fittingly, but also would curb her future career as an erotic desire.Frédérique Meininger, who plays the girl's mother, in her very limited screen-time, manages to unfold a great range of emotional spectra from jadedness to chagrin, agony, then utter disillusion. Suffice to say, the film is an above-average piece of cinema erotica, which gives a shot in exploiting the colonised culture, along with some R-rated explicitness, e.g. a pair of gorgeous buttocks humping to-and-fro on the screen.
... View More
The story is told to us through the sullen and hauntingly beautiful voice of Jeanne Mareau from the pages of novelist Margureite Duras' own book. The movie begins as we follow a young and beautiful French high school girl in 1929 French colonial Viet Nam when she begins her journey on an uncomfortably packed native bus to begin her school year in Saigon. It is on a small ferry carrying her and her bus across the Mekong River where we see her now standing along the side of the ferry staring out with her right foot casually resting on the ferry's bottom rung of a rope safety cordon. But also on this same ferry, watching her is a rich, handsome and well dressed Chinaman sitting in his chauffeur driven car, a car that must be one of the most luxurious cars of its day. He leaves the comfort of his automobile to join this very young girl and nervously and awkwardly attempts to make conversation with her. She seems disinterested in him and says little to him in reply, but pressing forward anyway, he then offers her a ride to the city. We now watch them riding together as the car drives along the dusty dirt road to Saigon with the only sounds we hear are those of the chauffeur honking the horn through the Vietnamese countryside passing rubber plantations and rice fields, weaving and dodging people and animals on the way to their destination in Saigon. He notices now her small hand resting on the seat between them and we see him now attempt to go beyond small conversation to make his first physical contact with her. He brushes against the side of her hand with his own and she doesn't draw her hand away from his but instead seems to relish his touch as we watch their two hands now become one, his hand over hers, their fingers eagerly and tightly interlocking in sexual intensity and energy.The Chinaman wastes little time in Saigon before taking her in his car from a break in school to a seedy part of Saigon in the Chinese district of Cholon. We watch them walk the last of the way through Cholon which she describes Cholon vividly as "smelling of Jasmine, minced meats, charcoal and soup, busy with the commotion of the mid day meal." In that room what follows is probably some of the most erotic scenes ever to be shown in a movie such as this and we almost aren't prepared for it, It isn't just what we see happening between them that holds our interest, but that room itself with sunlight piercing through the narrow slats of the room's window shutters, casting enough light on old used furniture, that bed and the writhing bodies of the lovers lying upon it to creating an unforgettable almost surreal dream-like state. We hear a cacophony of sounds just outside those walls produced by a motley variety of people, shoppers, vendors of every sort from stalls and along the street, diners, street peddlers calling out, a child (probably) practicing lessons on a piano and animals of every sort too. Together these sounds merge and drone on like that of locusts, somehow adding to the intensity of the sexual pleasures being engaged within the privacy of that room as if an island refuge from it all. This relationship as we expect is eventually doomed for various and obvious reasons and the time comes when they must part. Their parting and last sight of each other is poignant and from afar as we see Duras standing aboard the French liner, the Alexander Dumas as it begins leaving Saigon harbor. She is standing in the same manner she did the same day they first met aboard the small ferry, her left foot resting casually yet purposely on a bottom rope of the ship's safety cordon, as if a signal, looking intently outward for him where ever he may be on that dock yard. Finally, she sees his car, parked beside an old warehouse and almost hidden behind a pallet of unloaded piled high cargo with him watching her from the same seat in that same car where they had once sat together. They stare out at each other until they can see each other no more. She is not to hear of her Chinese lover again for many years later as we see her now an old woman at the movie's end sitting alone working at her desk in a dingy office in Paris with snow falling in the gloom of early evening outside her window. Her phone rings and he tells her in a voice that has lost his Westerness, regaining the dialect of his native China, she explains, that he loves her now as much as he loved her then and will always love her until the day he dies. Her emotion touches us as we ask why did it have to end? And as we ask that question, we are reminded of the impossible set of circumstances of race and age that by the standards of that day and this doomed any future for them. But still . . .This is a great movie, made all the better by Jane March and Tony Leung. March most ably portrays the innocent child school girl with the sexual awakening of the eager young vixen that lies beneath and erupts to the surface. March was made for the role and it is hard to imagine anyone else who could have played it any better. And Tony Leung had his role down just perfectly as well, bringing out the inner torment of the man he plays, evoking our sense of empathy for him in spite of the line he crosses in what many would call the sexual exploitation of a minor. I never tire of this movie and I watch it again and again and again. I know I am not alone.
... View More
The first time I heard about The Lover I was in high school and it was one of those films that a few classmates of mine would always bring up as the "dirtiest" movie they had ever seen. When I caught the unrated version of the film when it premiered back on Cinemax in 1993. I had no idea what I was in store for. I had already seen films that intensely explored sexual relationships in graphic detail, but most relegated the central issue, sex, to the background. They were more concerned with showing the emotional consequences of unrestrained passion, and not showing the obsession as it's played out in the bedroom. What makes The Lover so unique is that it's a movie which is not afraid to show us exactly what its lovers do when they're together. It shows us in explicit detail, repeatedly. The movie has incredible acting, direction, production design, which I will get to in a second. But the main reason to see this film is Jane March. Throughout this movie Jane is showing us her beautiful figure and openly sharing with us her sexual uninhibitedness. Her scenes with Tony absolutely melt the screen with eroticism. She was 17 years old during film, and you can see that her tremendous teenager body was still in course of formation. Jane is almost constantly naked throughout the middle of this film, and see her young body from practically every angle there is. We get great looks at her body during sex, when she's being washed, when she's walking around, and even when she's just lying there. But even when she is not seen disrobing, March is unbelievably sexy. The scene in which she puts her lips on the window of a man who is visiting her at school are some of the most erotically charged scenes in cinema history.The story focuses on "the young girl", whose life is already a tragedy at only the age of 15. Her family was once wealthy and respected, but they lost it all. They find themselves living in French occupied Vietnam. There is no love loss between the young girl and her mother--a truly cold woman with no sense of right or wrong. One of her brothers is addicted to drugs, and treats her with nothing but contempt. Her only shining light of hope is her younger brother. The lover is himself a tragic figure. Educated in France, he despises much of traditional Chinese culture, and is desperate to leave tradition behind and marry for love. He is severely depressed, and becomes infatuated by the sight of a young European girl he spots on a ferry. He decides right then to pursue the young girl as a way to escape his increasingly sad state of mind. After accepting a ride in his car, the two find themselves tightly holding hands. After dropping her off at the boarding school she attends, he becomes obsessed with seeing her again. The two eventually make an arrangement to meet in his bachelor pad, which according to Chinese tradition, is a "practice area" for marriage. The very intense relationship progresses as each plays with each other's bodies, lives and feelings. He says that he is in a prearranged marriage and cannot marry her, but he seems totally taken with her. She says that sex is totally fine with her, but could she be denying that it is love that she feels? With both families aware and opposed to their meeting, the young girl and the lover continue on exploring each other. It is only at the end that the true feelings are revealed.What director Annaud does brilliantly is to portray the lovers' yearning without giving voice to it overtly. He depicts it through a series of disavowals, through the wounds they inflict on each other, and allows the viewer to fill in that which cannot be uttered. Annaud spent over a year in Vietnam scouting for the most beautiful locations and remain of French colonial empire. The music is rich, the costumes are beautiful, and photography captures the sultry atmosphere of Indochina. The director took a long time finding a young actress who could easily pass for a girl in her mid teens. He finally the incredibly youthful looking Jane March. Although she plays a 15 year old here, the makeup and lighting make her appear even younger.No review of The Lover is complete without mentioning its pervasive sexuality. There is a bit of a controversy over the possibility of Jane March losing her virginity during her scenes with Tony Leung. There seems to be so much speculation - and different accounts, so its hard to know the truth I guess. You'll notice her facial expressions in the "deflowering" scene seem to be authentic, as they show her grimacing one second and smiling the next. Did they have actual sex? Opinions vary. I believe they did, and the actors just lied about it after wards. Take the third love scene as an example. The fact that Leung and March scoot across the floor like that while in the throes of passion makes it seem very likely that they were actually having sex. The fourth love scene, which has March sitting on top of Leung clearly shows a penetration shot. One cannot fake that.In the end, The Lover is a compelling story of how people fulfill the need for emotional survival. It is a testament to how blind we are to our own deficiencies. The ending is one of the most haunting scenes in film history. It's impossible not to feel for the young girl as she thinks about what her relationship with her lover could have been. Check this one out.