The French’s colonial presence in French Indochina personifies the nation’s haphazard relationship with its colonies. Incorporating the modern territories of three Vietnamese states, Laos and Cambodia, relations within the region were often fraught. With France eying expansion, they came up against China, Japan and Thailand who had aspirations of their own. Régis Wargnier’s epic Indochine takes place within this melting pot of politics, internal affairs and agitation.
Opening in 1930, Éliane Devries (Catherine Deneuve) is the single woman living in Indochina who runs her widowed father’s (Henri Marteau) large rubber plantation. After the death of her friends, she adopts their young daughter Camille (Ba Hoang/Linh Dan Pham). Years later, when young dashing French naval lieutenant Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Perez) arrives, the couple start a torrid affair. However, as anti-colonial unrest heightens, a single event changes all their lives.
Indochine is a sweeping epic saga. With a runtime of just under three hours, Wargnier lets the drama paly-out in full. Although melodramatic at times, strong performances from the cast ensure that it never feels hackneyed or overwrought. Its success rests upon the shoulders of Deneuve. She’s magnificent. Conveying all Éliane’s emotions, torments and desires. Indochine is a portrait of a changing world, where the old is being replaced by the new. A world in flux and the beginning of the fall of Empire.
- Indochine: A French epic (Indochine – Une épopée française) A brand new 52 minute documentary about the film, the historical context as well as interviews from Deneuve, Wargnier, Erik Orsenna, Louis Gardel, Vincent Pérez, Michel Bodin, Alain Ruscio, François Catonné, Alain Belmondo Gérard Crosnier and Jacques Bufnoir.
The new 4K restoration of Indochine is released on DVD, Blu-ray and EST by Studiocanal on 2 January.