Set during the dissolution of French Indochina, (modern day Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) it revolves around two women. The movie begins with Eliane, a childless, proud, French landowner inheriting the property and daughter (Camille) of Annamese Royalty at their funeral. According to tradition, the daughter is to be married to a man chosen by the family named Minh who leaves to be educated in France and returns a Communist ideologue. She rejects this man when as a school girl, she falls in love with an older French naval officer (Jean-Baptiste) who cares for her after a near death experience. It turns out this man is, unbeknownst to her, her adopted mother's lover. Eliane has Jean-Baptiste exiled to a remote military post and Camille marries Minh. However the wedding is a farce, and the couple split the next day and head off to pursue their dreams; his of creating a Communist country, and hers to travel North to the sea to find the man she loves. On this journey through the gorgeous Vietnamese countryside, she finally breaks free from her sheltered life and sees how her people live. She arrives at the Northern outpost to find its main purpose is to protect a slave trading station. She flees with Jean-Baptiste further North where they are rescued by Communists whom Minh convinces to hide the now notorious couple. There she gives birth to their son, Etienne. Eventually they are both individually captured and imprisoned. Etienne is returned to Eliane. Years later, Camille is freed but abandons her son with Elaine telling her to sell the plantation and flee to France. Watch the movie and enjoy the twists and turns not mentioned here! The film is a complex interplay of French and Vietnamese culture and politics. Gender and Motherhood roles are examined with the two protagonists being fiercely independent, strong, beautiful women caught in an intergenerational love triangle, espionage, oppression, slavery and then freedom.