The Dreamy and Erotic Relationship in ‘The Lover’

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Anthony Peyton

The ‘dreamy’ look is the cinematography that filmmakers such as Sofia Coppola and Bernardo Bertolucci have adopted and incorporated consistently throughout their films. This look is hard to summarize but in a word it would be ‘ethereal’ and usually the central or reoccuring theme of those films is ‘love’ and can be used to capture the feeling of love or falling in love.

These types of films, such as Call Me By Your Name or Her, have been successful in using this but none have ever accomplished it quite like Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 1992 film The Lover.

Set in the beautiful landscape of 1920’s Saigon, Vietnam, a young French girl (Jane March) from a broken, loveless home begins an affair with a wealthy Chinese bachelor (Tony Kai Fai Leung). Separated by class and race, they struggle to find acceptance amongst their families as The Chinaman (yes, that is his name) is arranged to traditionally marry a Chinese woman and The Young Girl’s family mocks the affair and call her a whore for her provocative behavior.

So they spend their days in a “Bachelor’s Suite” in the slums of Vietnam where they are hidden away from the European and Eastern societies.

We see these two worlds meshing together through the cinematography, which Robert Fraisse was nominated for at The 65th Academy Awards in 1993. The French/European elements play out more in the romantic scenes where it gives off a fragility with the lack of contrast while the Asian/Eastern elements appear in moments of stress and during their love scenes where the contrast of the Saigon sunlight reflecting off of their bare bodies and the dark, humid room create intimacy.

Though very different, it accomplished combining these two lovely and rich cultures/influences in a romantic way; which is what the story is about. We know what their love felt like because of the surreal way it was shown to us. We also gather the state of their own relationship and what exactly it meant to them both. In the case of The Chinaman, he was completely enamoured with The Young Girl while she convinced him and herself that she had no real feelings for him and was just using him for his money. No love and commitment, just lust and materialism.

The Young Girl, in the end, is finally able to come to terms with her immense love for The Chinaman and the two go on living apart for the rest of their days.

The darker contrasts are all in her perspective and are used for lustful scenes while the lighter, no contrast look belongs to his perspective where the scenes are more amorous and “rose-colored” than hers. Their relationship knows no middle ground therefore the cinematography knows no middle ground. They both exist individually while somehow remaining in a relationship with each other.

The Lover uncovers the inner journey of accepting love while also giving it. The bond between the two characters is not only sensual but sensitive and goes without saying that it is one of the most visually appealing films and one of the saddest love stories ever told.

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‘Something in the Air’ and its Exposure of Teenage Fantasies

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

Let’s do something different and review a movie from a few years ago because sometimes we miss the chance to speak our opinions on a film that should be talked about. Today, we’re talking about the 2012 French drama, Something in the Air.

Set in 1970’s France, the young artist Gilles (Clément Métayer) gets involved in a radical political group that believes they are the start of a small revolution with the usual hippie and drug combination that would almost be offensive if they hadn’t put it in.

Writer and Director Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper) portrays himself in the character of Gilles as he struggles with whether or not he should make films, be a painter, or be an activist. But he finds himself “joining the cause” to avoid alienation from his political friends who choose to make posters and graffiti buildings over doing something that matters. Gilles decides to take the creative route and eventually leaves his chaotic and radical friends behind to pursue a dream.

What I’m taking away from this is to follow your heart not the herd. Teenagers, like the ones in the film, are impressionable and often pressured into what their friends do because they don’t want to miss out on their youth before life happens. And when it finds you, you can’t run away from it. Eventually, you have to grow up which is what Gilles finds himself facing and ultimately realizes that life on the other side isn’t so bad.

Being a revolutionary seems exciting in the moment, but all revolutions come to an end and that’s kind of like youth.

Something in the Air is a film that, in the beginning, makes you want to travel the world without a worry or responsibility. By the end, you realize that it isn’t real. It’s a facade of happiness.


My Rating: 69%

Acting: 2.3/4

Cinematography: 3/4

Story: 3/4

Enjoyability: 2.7/4

Penetrating the Interminable Mystery Of ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

2018 has already had a good share of foreign films, when you put Zama and Fantastic Woman (which won Best Foreign Film at the 2018 Oscars) in the mix. It was exciting to see that a French foreign film was coming to theatres as I knew it would have an interesting plot and involve a person named Pierre as all french films inevitably have.

Ismael’s Ghosts ended up becoming very confusing very fast. It was simple, at first, seemingly about a woman named Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her boyfriend of two years, Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), who have to recover from a strange turn of events as Ismael’s presumed dead wife Corletta (Marion Cotillard) shows up at an unexpected time.

The acting was slightly better than mediocre. The actors and actresses were new to me, for the most part. Amalric was previously in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Munich, and Quantum of Solace. Cotillard is a one-time academy award winning actress for La Vie en Rose and also appeared in Inception.

As for the plot, it’s complexity develops into something significantly more mysterious, intense, and confusing. This included a story about Ismael as a director and his movie which ends up being part of the twist at the end. At least, I think it was. It got so complicated at the end that I couldn’t tell if it was a twist or something I was just missing the whole time.

Overall, Ismael’s Ghosts was a fine movie. It was confusing beyond confusing but that was its biggest flaw. Make sure you’re ready, though, because it’s the longest 2 hour and 15 minute film you’ll ever watch. As in, it will feel like you’ve been there for a full year before you leave.


My Rating: 74%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 3.3/4

Story: 2.8/4

Enjoyability: 2.8/4