Working freely from Joseph Conrad’s debut novel, Chantal 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.
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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.
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.
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."
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. An amazed movie.