Set during rising communist protests in the 1930s, Indochine is a riveting romantic saga, thanks to Catherine Deneuve’s classy performance, a sizzling story line and eye-catching locales in Vietnam.
Pic sticks close to its three main characters: a Frenchwoman who runs one of the country’s biggest rubber plantations, her adopted Indochinese daughter and the dashing French navy officer who loves each woman in quick succession.
Deneuve’s Eliane is cool if courteous whe she meets handsome naval newcomer (Vincent Perez), but she falls for him despite herself. Teenage daughter Camille (Linh Dan Pham) falls instantly in love when the same officer saves her from a terrorist, and frustrated beau asks for a faraway post in the north.
But stubborn daughter takes off after him on foot, discovering along the way her country’s miseries. She’s rounded up for peasant labor, kills a French slave auctioneer and flees with the stunned officer. Halfway into pic, its intriguing frame becomes clear: in Geneva, at the close of the Indochinese war, Eliane is telling her grown ward his parent’s history, since he’s about to meet his mother, a Communist Vietnamese representative, for the first time.
Deneuve’s impeccable performance brings to life the best and worst of the French colonialism. Perez, first an uncommitted lover and then a feisty Frenchman on the run, handles his fast-changing role with great sensitivity. Newcomer Pham shines as sheltered daughter and hardened revolutionary. Kudos are deserved all round for technical production.
1993: Best Foreign Language Film