Tuesday, December 21, 2010

White Material (2009)

White Material (2009)

Genre: Drama
Director: Claire Denis
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert, Isaach De Bankolé
Duration: 106 min.
Rating: 7.2/10

The regular army is preparing to reestablish order in the country.  To clean up.  To eliminate the rebel officer also known as The Boxer and rid the countryside of roving child soldiers.  All the expatriates have gone home, getting out before things turn nasty.  Of the Vials - coffee planters who have lived here for two generations - Maria stands firm. She’s not about to give in to rumors or abandon her harvest at the first sound of gunfire.


Shot in Cameroon but set in an unnamed African country, White Material is the latest film from Claire Denis (Trouble Every Day).  One of the greatest living directorial talents man or woman, Denis has a unique ability to when necessary set aside the narrative and focus on exploring human relations, expressions and emotions in a way that holds the viewers attention as much as a car chase or shootout can.

Not only is she able to express her story in the acting, but also just as importantly in what she shows on camera.  Here we are shown a dirty, dusty and dying hardscrabble landscape.  This might not be what Africa truly looks like but it doesn't matter, this is the mood that Denis wants to establish and she does so with great effect.       

Eternal beauty, Isabelle Huppert (Le temps du loup) is stellar as the stubborn and brave and perhaps foolish plantation manager.  The ever charismatic Isaach De Bankolé was excellent as the wounded rebel leader.  It was also fun to see former Highlander, Christopher Lambert, in a small but crucial role as the ex-husband.      

1 comment:

The Angry Vegetarian said...

After reading your review I'm dying to see this now.

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