Almayer’s Folley (La Folie Almayer)

Director: Chantal Akerman
France | 2013 | Fiction | French & Khmer w/ English subtitles
Run Time: 127 minutes
Film source: New Yorker Films

Almayer's Folly


La Folie Almayer (Almayer’s Folly)

As mysterious and dark as the Joseph Conrad novel from which it is freely adapted, acclaimed director Chantal Akerman’s latest film digs into the racial and sexual underpinnings of European colonialism. Told in oblique, introspective vignettes, La Folie Almayer follows the misguided exploits of Kaspar Almayer as he searches in vain for treasure in the Malaysian jungle, and labors ineffectually to safeguard his mixed-race daughter, Nina, the object of fascination of nearly every male character in the film. The film is lush and beautiful, with unforgettably odd and lovely images of decaying jungles, neon-lit karaoke clubs, and bizarre, floating temples. Akerman’s characteristic long takes encourage both contemplation and wonderment. Acclaimed by critics worldwide, La Folie Almayer is a puzzling and rewarding film that plunges into Conrad’s heart of darkness and brings the viewer along for the enigmatic ride.

About the Director: One of the boldest cinematic visionaries of the past quarter century, Akerman takes a profoundly personal and aesthetically idiosyncratic approach to cinema, using it to investigate geography and identity, space and time, sexuality and religion. Influenced by the structural cinema she was exposed to when she came to New York from her native Belgium in 1970, Akerman made her mark in the decade that followed, playing with long takes and formal repetition in her films, which include Hotel Monterey (1972), Je tu il elle (1975), News from Home (1976) and Les rendez-vous d’Anna (1978). Her greatest achievement to date, however, is her epic 1975 experiment Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, a hypnotic study of a middle-aged widow’s stifling routine widely considered one of the great feminist films.