March has the requisite child-woman quality and evinces some sly humor but she, too, is stymied by the schematic screenplay. She is far more convincing as an emblem of nostalgic, adolescent eroticism than as one of France's most distinguished future writers. Small wonder, then, that Duras herself has publicly disowned this adaptation.
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Director Jean-Jacques Annaud and adapter Gerard Brach provide more than a few effective moments. Beyond her corporeal qualities, March is thoroughly believable. When she walks up to Leung in his car and plants a kiss on his window, her swoonish tentativeness gives the act incredible weight. But the story is dramatically not that interesting. After establishing the affair and its immediate problems, "Lover" never quite rises to the occasion. Scratch away the steamy, evocative surface, remove Jeanne Moreau's veteran-voiced narration, and you have only art-film banalities.
The Lover is easy to watch and even easier to forget. A pleasant enough piece of commercial sensuality from French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, its selling point is its very pretty, clothing-optional sex scenes. Their effectiveness, however, is undercut by an air of self-congratulatory pomposity that the film is way too insubstantial to support.
Annaud, who wrote the adaptation with frequent collaborator Gerard Brach, showed more consideration for the cub in "The Bear" than he does for young Miss March, who is shamefully overexposed. True, Leung's bodacious, cantaloupe-colored bottom is showcased, but the only thing we miss of March's is the skin between her toes. Never mind that in portraying passion, the two seem to be demonstrating the proper use of the Salad Shooter.
Is The Lover any good as a serious film? Not really...I wanted to know more. I believe true eroticism resides in the mind; what happens between bodies is more or less the same, but what it means to the occupants of those bodies is another question.
the film that Mr. Annaud and his producer, Claude Berri, have made is something of a triumph. It's tough, clear-eyed, utterly unsentimental, produced lavishly but with such discipline that the exotic locale never gets in the way of the minutely detailed drama at the center.
Thankfully Annaud's stunning direction takes in the beautiful scenery allowing a mild diversion from the scenes of romance.