In reflecting on this movie I can think of two others to help put it in perspective. One relatively forgettable but covering the same geography, is Coup de Torchon, the other thousands of miles away and much larger in scope is the unforgettable Indochine. Claire Denis has produced a movie that has some of the grand underpinnings of Indochine, the complex and unspoken relationship between France and her colonial subjects.
I was struck with the dignity of Potee, with his struggle to maintain his dignity among his peers and with his white bosses. I was also struck with the love/hate relationship between him and Aimee. It is the latter that gives the film its driving force, it is the latter that links this movie to Indochine.
One never is sure what motivates everyone, though some of the characters are required of a remembrance of colonialism. It is this cynical side of the story that ties it to Coup de Torchon. Theirs is the more scandalous story, perhaps even more interesting in a depraved way, but Denis gives us a remembrance of how it was with all the tension and unresolved relationships.
The American black who gives the grown up France a ride in the beginning and end of the movie offers yet another interesting side to the confusion that we in the Western world have when we look at Africa. He says that when he came he wanted to call everyone brother. He was coming home, but they just thought him to be a little daft. France, the character and the girl, grew up in Cameroon, but neither fully understands what it is even though they can remember how it was.
A young French woman returns to the vast silence of West Africa to contemplate her childhood days in a colonial outpost in Cameroon. Her strongest memories are of the family's houseboy, Protee - a man of great nobility, intelligence and beauty - and the intricate nature of relationships in a racist society.—Dawn M. Barclift
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