Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Marguerite Duras' novel The Lover tells the story of a passionate, secret sexual adventure between a young French girl and an older Chinese man in Indochina in the 1920s. She says it is autobiographical, but I suspect it is the autobiography of her imagination, not of her real life. The elements in the story are the basic stuff of common erotic fantasies: Sex between strangers separated by age, race and social convention, and conducted as a physical exercise without much personal communication.
Perhaps these adventures really took place, in one form or another. It hardly matters. Jean-Jacques Annaud's film treats them in much the same spirit as "Emmanuelle" or the Playboy and Penthouse erotic videos, in which beautiful actors and elegant photography provide a soft-core sensuality. As an entry in that genre, "The Lover" is more than capable, and the movie is likely to have a long life on video as the sort of sexy entertainment that arouses but does not embarrass.
Is "The Lover" any good as a serious film? Not really.
Annaud and his collaborators have got all of the physical details just right, but there is a failure of the imagination here; we do not sense the presence of real people behind the attractive facades of the two main actors.