"The Lover" is the story of an 18-year-old French girl in a Vietnamese boarding school in 1929, who strikes up an affair with a hesitant, frail Chinese man and finds herself with money but no friends.
This is supposed to be one of those serious, sensuous explorations of sexual awakening on her part and sexual obsession on his, which moviemakers are always putting on the screen this one based on a novel by Marguerite Duras.
But it's really just another soft-core sex picture, a male fantasy with a sweet and innocent-looking young girl (Jane March, a model who looks more like 15 than 18) involved in a clandestine affair with an insecure older man of 32 (Tony Leung, a big star in Hong Kong).
The only moderately interesting scene here is a traditional Chinese wedding toward the end, which, of course, is cut short.
"The Lover," co-written and directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud ("Quest for Fire," "The Name of the Rose," "The Bear"), is a real snoozer, one of the most boring movies to come along in awhile.
It is rated R for considerable sex and nudity, with some violence and drug abuse.