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Friday, February 26, 2021

Indochine (1992)

Covering the years 1930 to 1954 in French Indochina, a French plantation owner (Catherine Deneuve in an Oscar nominated performance) adopts the daughter (Ba Hoang as a child, Linh Dan Pham as a young girl) of her Indochinese friends after they are killed in a plane crash and raises her as her own. But as the years pass, the country rebels against French colonialism and fights for its independence. Directed by Regis Wargnier, the film won the Oscar for best foreign language film. It's an ambitious epic (over 2 1/2 hours) which sets a romantic triangle between mother and daughter with a sailor (Vincent Perez) against the backdrop of French colonialism and the eventual birth of Vietnam. The film doesn't lecture us on the inherent racism of colonialism, it simply shows it to us and assumes we'll get it. In many ways, it's an old fashioned film (GONE WITH THE WIND in Vietnam) but with modern sensibilities instead of the white washing of colonialism with its exploitation of both the country and its people or the condemnation of communist rebels as devils. I had a minor problem with the uncharismatic Perez. It was hard to swallow that both mother and daughter would obsess over this bland toy boy. There's a marvelous score by Patrick Doyle which really heightens the picture. With Jean Yanne, Dominique Blanc and Henri Marteau.  

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