T

he film centers around a young French widow and her two adolescent children attempt to carve out a meager life for themselves by farming rice fields alongside the ocean in French Indo-China in the 1930's. Their efforts are hampered each year by the presence of the sea, which invariably floods the fields with saltwater and wipes out the crops. In desperation, the mother realizes that their only hope lies in the construction of a sea wall to prevent continued flooding, but the mother must cut a swath through the local bureaucracy in an almost Sisyphean attempt to make this happen. Meanwhile, her obstinate daughter, Suzanne, draws the romantic obsessions of a well-to-do Chinese gentleman, Monsieur Jo; though he could easily provide a way out, the possibility of a romantic relationship between Jo and Suzanne could just as easily fall prey to local racial prejudices that would damage or ruin the lives of both.

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