The Lover

Year: 1992
Studio: MGM
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Writer: Jean-Jacques Annaud/Marguerite Duras
Cast: Jane March, Tony Leung Ka Fai
Jane March caused as much of a stir starring in this film as Marguerite Duras had with her own Chinese lover when she grew up in colonial Indochina in the 1920s, her autobiographical book the basis for the film.

Making the most catastrophic decision of her career after The Lover, March chose to maintain the sexy image by not only appearing opposite Bruce Willis in the mostly-reviled Color of Night, but bumping tackle with him on camera.

She was Jane opposite Caspar Starship Troopers Van Dien in a later remake of Tarzan, and went nowhere from there.

It's a shame, because she was quite a talent and an extraordinary beauty, infusing the character of The Young Girl with a sexy spirit all her own, the bejewelled shoes and fedora as comfortable on her head as if we were there watching Duras herself at play.

The sex is explicit but in a rare combination – beautiful as well, both March and Leung extremely attractive people to be doing it. Growing up poor near Saigon, The never-named Young Girl is spied by a local Chinese aristocrat on a ferry crossing. They strike up a conversation, which turns into a ride back to her boarding school.

Making sure they cross paths several more times, they soon give in to their passions for each other and meet regularly in his streetside flat in the bustling market.

As their passion grows, it's obvious love can't grow with it, and the class and cultural divides that separate them are too vast. So there's something of a Romeo and Juliet story in the narrative.

But the real delight of the film is Annaud's appreciation of the sensuous. It's not just naked skin or bare flesh, it's the taste in the air as the clanking ferry chugs across the muddy Mekong Delta, the conflagration passing endlessly by the bachelors flat door metres away while they feverishly make love, the singing of crickets as the town lights ignite in the evening.

Yes March is beautiful, but she's also incredibly sexy, incredibly earthy and a huge talent for her age (then 18). Annaud of course would go on to vastly different things, but this film remains the high point in each career and one of the most languorously sensual movies ever made.

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