Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France/West Germany/Cameroon, 1988. Caroline Productions, Cerito Films, Cinémanuel, La Sept Cinéma, Le F.O.D.I.C. Cameroun, MK2 Productions, TF1 Films Production, Wim Wenders Productions. Screenplay by Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau. Cinematography by Robert Alazraki. Produced by Alain Belmondo, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Gerard Crosnier. Music by Abdullah Ibrahim. Production Design by Thierry Flamand. Costume Design by Christian Gasc. Film Editing by Monica Coleman, Claudine Merlin, Sylvie Quester. Cannes Film Festival 1988. National Board Of Review Awards 1989. New York Film Critics Awards 1989.
The opening chapter of Claire Denis’ fascinating film career is this excellent drama that examines French colonialism in Africa through a young woman’s memory. France Dalens (Mireille Perrier) travels to Cameroon to revisit the place where she grew up, flashing back to her childhood when she lived with her colonial officer father (François Cluzet), her fragile but determined mother (Giulia Boschi) and their house servant (Isaach De Bankolé) with whom she had the closest relationship. As Denis would reveal over the course of her future films, the film focuses on a detached observation of actions and gestures, with minimal emphasis on dialogue (and what dialogue exists isn’t thoroughly connected to the action) and only a loose structure of plotting. Her sense of atmosphere is captivating, however, and watching the emotional experiences in this film unveil themselves is a fascinating experience.