A mixture of colonialist nostalgia and revisionist attitudes about same, this semiautobiographical first feature (1988) by Claire Denis, former assistant to Rivette, Makavejev, Jarmusch, and Wenders (among others), is set and shot in Cameroon. A young Frenchwoman named France (Mireille Perrier) recalls her childhood in the late 50s as the daughter of a district officer (Francois Cluzet). The little girl (Cecile Ducasse) is mainly brought up by a kind and sensitive black servant (Isaach de Bankole) significantly named Protee after the many-sided god Proteus. Denis has some success in establishing the lazy, contemplative rhythms of life in such a place, which are partially upset when a group of travelers who are waiting for their plane to be repaired move in — an intrusion that brings diverse sexual, racial, and political undertones to the surface — although the episodic flow tends to set up an occasional self-consciousness and air of portent about the film’s apparent lack of pretension. As a first feature, this is respectable enough work, though the intelligence here seems at times closer to Louis Malle (for better and for worse) than to any of Denis’ former employers. With Giulia Boschi, Kenneth Cranham, Jean-Claude Adelin, and Emmet Judson Williamson; coscripted by Jean-Pol Fargeau. (JR)

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