Sunday, April 20, 2014

THE LOVER (1992) - Jean-Jacques Annaud

Admission: I do not come to The Lover a virgin viewer. I had fast-forwarded to a number of scenes in this film on a duped VHS copy years before. If you know anything at all about The Lover, you probably know which scenes (not the dinner table sequences). What can I say? It was the early '90s, I didn't own a computer, much less the internet. What I did have was a sizeable Jane March crush after seeing her sex scenes in the laughably bad yet somewhat titillating Color of Night. So I skipped through the lush Vietnam photography, the Jeanne Moreau voiceover, got right to the good stuff.

Did I do The Lover a disservice by skipping ahead? Of course. Annaud is a fine director. Quest for Fire, The Bear, The Name of the Rose. The man's a whiz at shooting outdoors in natural light, creating sensory-dense images from a slight contemplative remove. Seen in full, The Lover is no different. Beautiful cinematography, well-acted by the leads (March and Tony Leung, as wealthy Chinese aristocrat and his young French lover). It's fine source material (the Marguerite Duras novel), though veering toward the overheated and Harlequin Romance-y in spots (see pictured car window smooch). The once controversial sex scenes, though artfully done, do play considerably tamer 20-plus years later. But that Jane March...such a stunner. If I was a car owner, I'd let her kiss my windows clean any day of the week.

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