Submitted by Julio M

Oscar Winner – Best Foreign Language Film ; Oscar Nominee – Best Actress.

Luck eventually runs out for Camille (Linh Dan Pham) and Jean-Baptiste (Vincent Perez) and, after being on the run for a long time from murdering a French military officer, they are ambushed close to the Chinese border; this, shortly after they had baptized their son Étienne in a river. Jean-Baptiste is taken away and imprisoned, while Camille manages to escape with the Communist theatre troupe that had taken them both in, and little Étienne is turned over to Camille’s adoptive mother, French plantation owner Éliane (Cathérine Deneuve).

Jean-Baptiste gives in, after a while in prison, and, in exchange for confessing, he begs to be allowed to see Étienne one last time; since the French Military already had plans to court-martial him back in France, they concede it. He goes to the plantation and Éliane allows him to stay over until the next day. However, the following morning, he is found dead of a single headshot, which is immediately ruled a suicide -Éliane believes the local police murdered him, while local Police Head Guy (Jean Yanne), a close ally of Éliane, believes the Communists did; neither can be proved-. Meanwhile, Camille has been captured and, deemed a political enemy, sent to the Côn Dào Prison, where she is all but isolated from everyone.

Five years pass. The rising power of the Popular Front mandates the liberation of all political prisoners -Camille included-. Éliane comes to take her home, but she, having been deeply changed, refuses, instead wishing to join the fight for Viet Nam’s independence from French rule. She also asserts to Éliane that she wants Étienne to grow completely free from the traumas and tribulations she has lived through, adding that “Indochina is dead”. With nothing else to do, Éliane sells the plantation and leaves for France with Étienne, whom she raises as her grandson.

We then see as Éliane has finished relaying the flashback story to a 24-year-old Étienne (Jean-Baptiste Huyhn), while both are on board of a ship heading to Geneva, Switzerland, in 1954. They stay at the same hotel where the negotiations for the Geneva Conference -the same one that would lead to Vietnamese independence- were taking place. Camille is present as a delegate to the Vietnamese Communist Party. Étienne intends to reacquaint with Camille, but, seeing the massive crowd, declines and just tells Éliane that “she is his true mother, since she raised him”. Éliane accepts his statement with a certain sense of sadness, while they both overlook the Swiss landscape.

The movie ends with title cards informing that, as a result of the Conference, French Indochina attained its independence and split into North (Communist) and South (pro-Western) Viet Nam.

02 hours 40 minutes