The Gate (2014)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

Original title:  Le Temps Des Aveux

Cambodia/France, 2014.  Les Films du Cap, Gaumont, Scope Pictures, Bophana Production, France 3 Cinéma, Orange Cinéma Séries, Ciné+, France Télévisions, Eurimages, Procirep, Angoa-Agicoa, MEDIA Programme of the European Union.  Screenplay by Regis Wargnier, , based on the novel Le Portail by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

 is excellent as a French researcher who moved to Indochina to study ancient Buddhist texts and stayed past the forming of the nation of Cambodia. His life is nearly destroyed by the Khmer Rouge when he is suspected of espionage and imprisoned in the jungle away from his wife and child, held captive and told he will not be released until he admits that he is working for the C.I.A. So many movies about political imprisonment follow the Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence model (I learn from my captor while he shows me his humanity under brutal circumstances and I am never again the same), and Regis Wargnier doesn’t exactly rewrite the book on that subgenre, but the process of watching Personnaz’s Bizot waiting the days out while he tries to prove himself innocent are directed and performed superbly. The sumptuous photography displays Wargnier’s typical combination of breathtaking, epic beauty and hard-lined political grittiness, less soapy than his wonderful Indochine but not as far as the hard realities of Rithy Pan (who serves here as producer) or even The Killing Fields.

Toronto International Film Festival:  2014

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