Country: Belgium / France
Review: Loosely adapted from Joseph Conrad’s debut novel, “Alamayer’s Folly” marks the return of Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman after a seven year absence. The adopted style, not so experimental as in other times, presents recognizable features; steady hand, long and precise shots, and efficient image composition, often using strong contrasts of shadow and light. The tale itself is bitter and powerful, following Gaspard Almayer (was Stanislas Merhar the right choice to play this character?), a French merchant whose great ambition for gold brought him to a remote village in Malaysia, where he got married to a local woman. From that loveless marriage, a beautiful mixed-race girl was born, becoming the proud of her father. Convinced by his employer, Alamayer sends his daughter Nina to a boarding school in town, where she could have a ‘white education’. But this will become a traumatic experience for her. Back to her village, after being kicked out from school, she will become the great love of Dain, a drugs smuggler who was Almayer’s last hope to get rich. Told in a strange but not discouraging way, “Almayer’s Folly” is a film about love, ambition, madness, racial issues, failed intentions, and disillusions. Its deliberate pace, nature sounds, and tropical ambience (reminding me Weerasethakul’s films without the mystical component), will not fit in everyone’s taste, but for those more adventurous, it may be a challenging cinematic experience.