The Gate (Le temps des aveux), 2014.
Directed by Régis Wargnier.
Starring Raphaël Personnaz, Olivier Gourmet, and Kompheak Phoeung.
Two decades after forging an unlikely alliance in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, a French ethnologist and a former Khmer Rouge official meet again after the latter is arrested for crimes against humanity.
A native of France spends his time visiting ancient sites and studying Cambodian culture is taken away from his wife and child and held captive under the suspicion of being a foreign spy; he is isolated from the prisoners and the camp commander takes a particular interest in him often engaging in ideological debates with his prisoner. Despite rebel hierarchy demanding that the Frenchman be executed, his captor intervenes and eventually has his life spared. Years later they meet again when the Cambodian soldier is under investigation for war crimes.
The protagonist takes on a Christ-like image in appearance which compliments his selflessness in dealing with the others around him. Executions are suggested than shown and the French authorities conveniently avoid intervening by wrapping themselves with bureaucratic red tape. Craftiness is required to ensure that his wife, family friend, and daughter are allowed to accompany him to France; however, not all goes according to plan for the main character.
When it comes to cinematography, the jungle settings are lush and dangerous while the acting performances are believable. The decision to have the war crime investigation storyline to serve as the bookends unfortunately causes an intriguing concept to become merely a footnote. What would be it be like to meet the man responsible for holding you captive years later who requires your testimony at his trial? There is a lot of dramatic potential that goes untapped as result. It could be used as the means to examine the cause of the conflict and psychological after affects for both the victim and perpetrator.
Undoubtedly, The Gate will be compared to The Killing Fields (1984) which explores the same subject matter in a more compelling manner as the human cost of the warfare is dramatically depicted. The period movie is worth seeing as a cinematic experience but misses the opportunity to bring something new to the discussion about the brutal South East Asia civil war which became embroiled in the Cold War struggle between America and Communism.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★★/ Movie: ★★★