In 1950, English couple Louise and Michael arrive in French-occupied Indochina to cover a story on a rubber plantation. They stay as guests of the enigmatic plantation overseer Daniel and his beautiful yet difficult daughter Viola at their elegant, decaying villa amid a tropical jungle. Hoping that some time spent working in an exotic location will help reignite the passion in their floundering marriage, Michael and Louise instead find themselves unwittingly involved in the personal, sexual, and political tensions of their hosts. Daniel is desperate to hold onto a way of life no longer possible in a country struggling for independence, bringing him into conflict not only with his daughter but also with his adopted country.
‘In human reckoning, Golden Ages are always already in the past. The Greek poet Hesiod, in Works and Days, posited Five Ages of Mankind: Golden, Silver, Bronze, Heroic and Iron (Ovid made do with four). Writing in the Romantic period, Thomas Love Peacock (author of such now almost forgotten novels as Nightmare Abbey, 1818) defined The Four Ages of Poetry (1820) in which their order was Iron, Gold, Silver and Bronze. To the Golden Age, in their archaic greatness, belonged Homer and Aeschylus. The Silver Age, following it, was less original, but nevertheless 'the age of civilised life'. The main issue of Peacock's thesis was the famous response that he elicited from his friend Shelley - Defence of Poetry (1821).’ (Publication abstract)