Akerman paints with the camera and the result is pure poetry. In this story, adapted loosely from Joseph Conrad's novella, Akerman reveals the disillusionment of Western man's idea of the Orient. The opening sequence is one of the best that I have seen, and the actress that plays Almayers daughter is truly a vision of beauty tempered with a rebellious cigarette dangling precariously from her lips.
In a jungle of rotting palms and malarial heat Akerman crafts a Shakespearean tale of desire and despair, of murder and death, of choices poorly considered and rashly made. Hypnotic. The final scene is absolutely heart breaking - a life time of regret has never been rendered so poignant and with so few words.
I'm sorry to say that this film did not work for me as I hoped it would. Her adaptation of Conrad's book is often fascinating and other times just plain dull. It has nothing to do with pace but the arresting images can not always save the film from a lack of compelling moments.
Stanislas Merhar and his wandering gaze, absorbed in his inner fixity, his beauty simultaneously opaque and translucent, the one that should have been Cocteau's "Orpheus" but that with Akerman materialized a journey into the heart of darkness. And it's precisely by this darkness, with Wagnerian chords, that this "captive" film begins and finds a Durasian poesis encrusted in a fearless landscape.
The jungle is a beautiful and tranquil environment, but also harsh and brutal. Each of the characters in this story, each in their own way, experience the latter. This film superbly conveys that "nightmare."
Great stuff - fascinating take on the Conrad story, lovely cinematography esp monsoon, city scenes. Strange placement of colonial story in contemporary time. Nods perhaps to Kurosawa in some of the theatrical flourishes.