Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Lover (1992) – NR

The photography in this film is outstanding. From the opening close-up of a young 15 year-old French girl in Saigon to the panoramic street and country scenes of Colonial Vietnam in 1929, the film’s cinematography is beautiful. The details in the shots are refined to a degree that the audience can nearly smell and taste the food cooking from street vendors. The director Jean-Jacques Annaud takes this highly refined gift of cinematography into the bedroom to capture the beauty and the sweat of lovemaking. The NR version of The Lover has highly erotic and explicit sexual scenes of the young French girl, played by Jane March and the lover, played by Tony Leung Ka Fai. Though steamy, the film is a romance centered on forbidden love. The film was nominated for the 1993 Oscar for Best Cinematography.

The film opens as a young French girl from a dysfunctional family that has fallen on hard times is returning to boarding school. An older wealthy Chinese gentleman offers her a ride into town. She accepts. Their hands touch and his passion grows. That she notices his passion is obvious. We follow the couple as they secretly meet for their lovemaking. She gives her innocence then her passion and her body. The erotic scenes are filmed from a small first floor hotel room, with the clatter and smells of the city right outside their door.

The Lover is about so much more than forbidden love. It is about race, class, wealth, privilege, family violence, traditions and religion. The story of this affair as seen in the context of these two families is as complex a tapestry as the crowded streets of Saigon. This is a powerful drama not to be missed.

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