A cross-cultural drama about a wealthy middle-aged Frenchman’s yearning for a nineteen year local girl. Raja is an orphan literally and figuratively scarred by life. Fred is an emotionally bankrupt westerner living amid his plush garden. Fred’s attempt to seduce Raja, and their mutual attempt at manipulation, are fractured by their gross disparity of income, age and cultural sophistication. —IMDb.com
A remarkably humanistic writer/director whose introspective features often dwell on youthful malaise, French filmmaker Jacques Doillon has an uncanny knack for exploring human nature and the impact of people’s actions on those most dear to them. Perhaps it was his penchant for directing documentary shorts early on that gave Doillon his insight, but by the time he moved into feature territory in the early ‘70s he had suitably mastered the ability to tell a solid and affecting story. In 1979, Doillon was nominated for two César awards for his compelling psychological drama The Hussy, and his 1984 film La Pirate was a Golden Palm nominee at the Cannes Film Festival. By the 1990s, Doillon’s career had gained effective momentum. His 1990 film Le Petit Criminel, which told the involving tale of a troubled adolescent, was nominated for multiple César awards. After his success with film Le Jeune Werther in 1993, the director scored his biggest international hit to date with the 1996 drama Ponette… read more
This is a well-observed parable of colonialism. It is grounded in a naturalism that belies its symbolism, keeping it from becoming heavy-handed. But this naturalism is sometimes its downfall; too many of the conversations are repeated throughout the film, and could have been abridged. Viewers should be warned that in spite of its subject matter, it is not a particularly erotic film.