Indochina, 1931. In the Gulf of Siam, a mother survives as best she can with her two children, Joseph (20) and Suzanne (16), who she watches grow up and whose departure she knows is inevitable. Abused by the colonial administration, she has invested all her savings in a block of land that is regularly flooded, and is therefore unable to be farmed. Fighting against the corrupt bureaucrats who've cheated her, and who now threaten to evict her, she puts all her energy into a crazy project: to construct a sea wall with the help of the village farmers. Ruined and obsessed by her undertaking, she more or less leaves Joseph and Suzanne to their own devices. It is then that M.Jo, the son of a rich Chinese businessman, falls under Suzanne's spell. The family tries to take advantage of the situation.
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