Working freely from Joseph Conrad’s debut novel, Akerman tells the story of a European trader in 1950s Malaysia whose dreams of a Western life for his Malay daughter slowly lead to destruction.
Chantal Akerman’s 2000 film The Captive was an ingenious reduction of the fifth volume of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Almayer’s Folly, her second foray into literary adaptation, transplants Joseph Conrad’s 1895 debut novel, which concerns a Dutch trader living in Malaysia, to the 1950s. The additional decades of foreign intervention have left an indelible mark on the region that lingers in the lush periphery of this fever dream of a film.
A man sings in a bar as women dance behind him. A sullen figure approaches and stabs the man. All the dancers flee save one, who keeps performing, oblivious. She stops, and begins to sing a song of her own.
This early aria foreshadows the lyricism and generous use of music that will come to infuse so much of the film. Almayer’s Folly is a work of bold stylistic risks undertaken by a filmmaker of legendary precision. Akerman’s characteristic long takes are here, but rather than enforcing a sense of naturalism, they serve the film’s high theatrical style. The result is seductive, even intoxicating.
Almayer (Stanislas Merhar) came to Southeast Asia long ago to seek his fortune. He married the adopted Malay daughter of the wealthy Captain Lingard in the hopes of winning an inheritance, but Lingard’s fortune gradually dwindled after a series of ill-advised journeys in search of hidden treasure. Now Almayer is resigned to a meagre existence, running a trading post where no one trades. Nina (Aurora Marion), his half-Malay daughter, is his sole source of hope and comfort. But Dain, the young man Almayer had enlisted to help him find the lost treasure his father-in-law fruitlessly sought, has eyes for Nina, and threatens to steal her away from this steamy backwater forever.
Almayer’s Folly is a mature work that comments on the legacy of colonialism while telling a haunting story of greed and desire. And it’s yet more evidence of Akerman’s impressive control of the medium and restless pursuit of vital new images. –TIFF
Dubbed by the Village Voice as “arguably the most important European director of her generation,” Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman is known for making innovative films that have often earned comparison to those of Jean-Luc Godard or Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Although she rejects the label of “feminist filmmaker,” Akerman has become a guiding light in making films about the real issues faced by women, employing an experimental, deeply personal approach to her subjects.
A disciple of Godard (who first inspired the then-15-year-old Akerman with his Pierre le fou), Akerman attended Brussels’ INSAS film school and the Universite Internationale du Paris. She demonstrated her devotion to Godard with her first amateur short subject, 1968’s Saute Ma Ville (Blow up My Town), which three years after its completion was entered in the Oberhausen Festival. Working on the fringes of show business in New York in the early ’70s, Akerman became an enthusiastic participant in the avant garde film… read more
A shame I thought, I felt there was something unfit in Akerman's way of directing applied to Conrad's debut novel about the malaysian tragedy of a dutch trader that suddenly begins to face the failures of all he dreamt of a future western-style life with his mixed-blood daughter (**3/4 - 5.5/10)
Its deliberate pace, nature sounds, and tropical ambience (reminding me Weerasethakul’s films without the mystical component), will not fit in everyone’s taste, but for those more adventurous, it may be a challenging cinematic experience. Review and Rating: http://alwayswatchgoodmovies.blogspot.com/2013/04/almayers-folly-2011.html
Il intéressant de voir Akerman mettre à profit son expérience stylistique au profit d'une fiction telle qu'un roman de Conrad. Sa maîtrise de la durée par des plans longs donne plus de langueur au film que l'interprétation assez mièvre de Stanislas Mehrar, qui marmonne sa détresse dans sa barbe. Le spectateur est encore moins convaincu qu'il aime sa fille que nina elle-même. J'aime beaucoup la première séquence, l'Ave Verum Corpum de Mozart chanté dans un lupanar triste de banlieue asiatique. Et le long travelling de la course de Nina dans Pnom Penh rappelle ces travellings inquiétant qu'Akerman déroulait dans les rues d'une ville russe. Bien qu'Akerman explique s'être éloignée très librement du roman de Conrad, elle donne envie de retourner au texte.
Overviews of the Museum of the Moving Image series: 13 features and seven shorts, nearly all of them New York premieres.
The Ferronis take our end of the year double feature extravaganza to delirious heights.
Featuring an interview with Ai Weiwei and more. Also: The Gold Rush and Last Year at Marienbad in New York.
The Museum of the Moving Image opens 2012 with a series of New York premieres: Akerman, Garrel, Raya Martin and more.
Akerman’s Joseph Conrad adaptation sees its US release.
Films by big names (the Dardennes, Terence Davies, Chantal Akerman) and an impressive debut by Santiago Mitre.
The trades are not impressed, but Akerman’s first narrative feature in seven years does have its champions.