“Does the white man know what is best for us?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
We understand that Richardson — who first took Howard under his wing at the age of 12 — hopes Howard will redeem himself, but it’s not really clear how. Yes, Howard helps Richardson navigate his boat through undeniably tricky channels:
… but expecting Howard to simply “stay put” at the trading post seems disastrously naive.
There’s plenty of tension and atmosphere in Morley’s household, and the casting of Morley’s real-life look-alike daughter Annabel seems inspired:
But whenever Reed’s wandering camera pans across the locals looking with bemusement, wonder, or disdain at the whites around them (who can blame them?), we’re reminded this is primarily a tale of a self-created “outcast” who really can’t (won’t) fit in anywhere.
We also know right away that Howard’s obsession with sultry, wild-eyed Kerima (giving a one-note performance) will inevitably lead him down a path of ruin:
The problem is, we don’t really care what happens to him, and are equally unsure how to feel about the troubles obnoxious Morley gets himself into:
In the film’s favor are beautiful cinematography and fine location shooting in Sri Lanka (matched with studio footage done back in England); however, only fans of Reed’s work should consider this must-see.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: