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Duras' impressionistic meditation on French colonial ennui, depression and homesickness in the midst of opulence, petty gossip, and the threat of disease and death is remarkably astute. It is so well-realized, in fact, that the film itself is weighted with a sense of listlessness that is likely to extend to its audience. I can well imagine how unbearable it would be to watch for somebody with no particular interest in the European experience of colonialism. But, considering the subject matter, I don't think Duras could have honestly made a more engaging film. It really is a drag--so much so that at a certain point it becomes humorous. The absurdity of it all. For all the lush interiors, picturesque fading manors, languorous slow dances and sparkling finery, Duras deserves credit for her relatively unromantic (if indulgent and solipsistic) depiction of colonial life.
That lady sure does like to sit and not move for extended periods of time.
If you ever suffer from insomnia, I recommend this movie. The director's intent was to portray boredom with life, and overwhelmingly succeeded. Unfortunately, this makes it torturous to watch, but hey, you can't have everything.
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In 7 official lists
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This movie ranks #62 in BBC's The 100 Greatest Films Directed by Women
This movie ranks #80 in Time Out's The 100 Best French Films
This movie ranks #229 in Harvard's Suggested Film Viewing: Narrative Films
This movie ranks #415 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #501 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #592 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #667 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema