The Killing Fields – My Father’s Guests

It’s so nice to have a little bit of free time! I’ve managed to see two movies over the weekend, which, as most of you would know, is quite an achievement for me! The first one I watched (on DVD) was  “The Killing Fields” directed by Roland Joffe. It is an oldish movie (It dates from 1984) and one that I had actually seen before, but after my trip to Cambodia last month, I wanted to see it again. It stars Sam Waterstone, Haing S. Ngor, and John Malkovich, and won three Academy Awards (Best supporting actor, best editing, and best cinematography). The story is about Sydney Schanberg, a New York Times journalist covering the civil war in Cambodia, and his local Cambodian interpreter, Dith Pran. When the American forces leave in a hurry before the Khmer Rouge forces enter the capital city of Phnom Phen, Dith Pran manages to send his family away while he stays behind with Schanberg to cover the event. Schanberg and his fellow journalists eventually leave the country, but Pran, as a local, has to stay and is arrested by the Khmer Rouge. Pran will survive and manage to flee the Khmer Rouge regime and is reunited with Schanberg. It’s a great movie about a story too often untold: the fate of the Cambodian people during the Khmer Rouge regime who managed to murder two million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. It’s not an easy movie, but then it is a very difficult topic as well. The story is well presented, the actors are all very good, there are beautiful landscapes to admire, and it is impossible not to be touched by the story of Pran and his narrow escape from death. I find it amazing to see how Cambodia has managed to overcome those terrible years and become what it is today, a welcoming, peaceful, and stunning country. As a consequence of the war years, there are unfortunately still too many land mines in the country. The country is definitely worth an extended visit. The Killing Fields will give you an introduction to a dark side of its recent past.

The second movie I saw on the weekend was “My Father’s Guests” (Les invites de mon père in French) as part of the Hong Kong French Film Festival. The film is from 2009 and was directed by Anne Le Ny. It stars Fabrice Luchini, Karin Viard, Michel Aumont, Valérie Benguigui, and Véronica Novak. It is the story of how Lucien Paumelle, a retired doctor, welcomes two very special illegal migrants from Moldova in his home. His commitment leads him to marry the sexy, young woman, Tatiana, several decades younger than him, to the dismay of his adult son and daughter, Babette and Arnaud.  They soon realise that despite being 80 years old, Lucien has succumbed to the charm of his guest. While Tatiana and her daughter invade Lucien’s home, Babette and Arnaud’s lives turn to chaos. The movie is fun to watch, especially the beginning when Tatiana makes herself comfortable in her new home and family. It touches on tricky topics such as illegal migrants, fake marriages, racism, sexual relationships by interest, and age and grieving. I was particularly interested by the topic of an old man dating a young woman while the mother had recently passed away, and how the children react, since this is the main theme of my latest full-length play “Sorting Dresses.” I don’t like Luchini as an actor, he annoys me, but he is okay in this movie. As for Karin Viard, she is as good as always. I was however a little disappointed with the last part of the movie: too fast, not realistic, some big holes in the story, and an ending that did not gel with the rest of the film.

1 Comment

Filed under France, Hong Kong, Movies

One response to “The Killing Fields – My Father’s Guests

  1. Pingback: Latest blog posts from the Cambodian blogosphere: 2010-11-29 – cambopedia

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