The
 Vincent

PEREZ
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France
1992
159 minutes

 

 

 

Synopsis: Indochine centers on the life of Eliane (Catherine Deneuve), a wealthy rubber plantation owner who adopts the young Annamese beauty Camille (Linh Dan Pham) when her parents are accidentally killed. Eliane embodies the French attitude toward Indochina - she is in love with its beauty, and views its people with a mixture of arrogant condescension and maternal affection. She is the kind of woman who is perfectly capable of nurturing a small child one minute and callously beating an old man who works on her plantation the next. Like most of the French in Indochina in the 1930s, she is only dimly aware of rising nationalist sentiment in the countryside. Rumors of open revolt reach her ears, but she is too wrapped up in running her plantation and educating the lissome Camille to show any real concern. Besides, she is convinced in her heart and mind that France and Indochina are inseparable.

Eliane's carefully constructed world begins to come apart when she embarks upon a passionate affair with a handsome but callow young French naval officer named Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Perez). Despite her professed cynicism about love, Eliane soon finds herself hopelessly dependent on the dashing officer. The wheels of tragedy are set in motion when Jean-Baptiste rescues Camille during a street uprising and the young woman falls in love with him.

*****

Critic John Berardinelli:
"Indochine is, at its heart, a love story. Despite all the political turmoil that functions as the film's backdrop, the central element of the movie is the tale of how Camille and Jean-Baptiste meet, fall in love, and confront an uncertain future. The scenes focusing on the relationship between these two are electric...Vincent Perez's Jean-Baptiste is better rounded on the written page than his lover, and the actor's passionate performance amplifies what the screenplay envisioned."

Miami Herald:
"Wargnier and cinematographer Francois Catonne have created breathtaking, indelible images - a flotilla of illuminated sampans floating in the sea at dusk, the warmly lit interiors of ornate, yet delicate Mandarin palaces, plantation workers heading out in the early-morning mist with makeshift hat-torches lighting their way...  Aided by sterling performances
from the three leads, this seemingly cliched story line feels fresh and captivating."

Wichita Eagle:
"Haunting and exotic...Deneuve plays Eliane as elegant, independent and sturdy; she is a woman determined not to show vulnerability while everything around her collapses. Pham as the princess and Perez as the sailor are a touching and heartbreaking Romeo and Juliet, whose political naivete puts them in harm's way."

Studio Magazine:
"Wild, seducing and impatient as a noble race horse, Vincent Perez has been able to transmit his internal struggle, his profound contradictions, his intimate changes. He gives a good intensity to all these aspects of his personality, an enormous authenticity and frankness, as in the wonderful shot of his meeting with Deneuve at the auction house."

The Chronicle, Duke University:
"There is real passion in the scenes between Deneuve and Perez and later in his scenes with Pham. The scene in which he rescues the young woman from an accident and then tends to her as she regains consciousness surely must count as one of the most sensual scenes of any film this year."

Critic Frank Maloney:
"Wargnier is blessed with one of the world's greatest woman stars, Catherine Deneuve...   She is ideal for the part of Eliane - mature, sensuous, in control, strong,and deeply loving, deeply sad... Linh Dan Pham is a marvelous actor and an amazingly beautiful woman, the ideal co-star for Deneuve. The third leading actor in Indochine is Vincent Perez, the French naval officer whose own odyssey is fully as strange and unexpected as either of the women. Perez is a fine actor and his scenes with Linh Dan Pham are full of powerful emotions finely shaded."

Philadelphia Inquirer:
The French contribution to the Vietnam film archive certainly dispels any illusions regarding their part in the country's troubled history. Perez insists that the discussion has been a form of national group therapy, in much the same way that our Vietnam movies have helped us come to terms with a tragedy that scarred a generation.

Cox Interactive Media:
"Director Regis Wargnier uses Catherine Deneuve's face as a primary element in many of his impeccable wide-screen compositions, but he also gives the other players many chances to shine. As Jean-Baptiste, Vincent Perez is a little overheated, but it suits both his character and the film, and Linh Dan Pham makes an impressive debut as Camille."

The News & Observer:
"Indochine is sweeping, nearly epic.The work of Linh Dan Pham as Camille and Vincent Perez as Jean-Baptiste is as notable as Deneuve's."

Hartford Courant:
"Jean-Baptiste, whose history as an angry son of a profligate father is only sketched, comes across as a rigid, driven military man as played by the striking, sharp-featured Vincent Perez."

*****

vletter.gif (1289 bytes)"This is an experience that some of our grandparents are old enough to have lived through. The movies have given the French a wonderful opportunity to talk about Indochina and what it meant to them."

"This famous Ha Long Bay is linked in my mind to the magical memory of the first day of shooting. We had to walk for a kilometer in the rice-fields for the shot where Linh Dan (the young vietnamese actress playing the adopted daughter of Catherine Deneuve) and I were going offshore under a hot sun. We walked this distance dressed in our costumes, hand in hand, without speaking. Then we layed down in this fragile boat while the technicians stayed on another boat a distance from us. I was alone driving the sampan, Linh Dan sleeping close to me. I could see the boat with the camera far away, tiny. I was alone. I wanted to shout from happiness and I should have done it. It was wonderful like living in a legend."

Cast:

Catherine Deneuve...................... Eliane Devries
Vincent Perez................ Jean-Baptiste Le Guen
Linh Dan Pham..................................... Camille
Jean Yanne.....................................Guy Asselin
Dominique Blanc.....................................Yvette
Emile...........................................Henri Marteau Tanh...............................................Eric Nyugen

Credits: 

Directed by.................................Regis Wargnier
Screenplay by..........Erik Orsenna, Louis Gardel, Catherine Cohen and Regis Wargnier
Cinematography by..................Francois Catonne
Music by.......................................Patrick Doyle


Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1993 plus Catherine Deneuve was nominated for Best Actress. Cesar for Best Cinematography, Sound, Production Design, Best Actress (Catherine Deneuve) and Best Supporting Actress (Dominique Blanc).

Film locations: Lucerne, Switzerland, Malaysia, Vietnam and Paris, France.

Premiered in France on April 15, 1992

DVD available

 

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