Louis Trebor, a man nearing 70, lives alone with dogs in the forest near the French-Swiss border. He has heart problems, seeks a transplant, and then goes in search of a son sired years ... See full summary »
A young French woman returns to the vast silence of West Africa to contemplate her childhood days in a colonial outpost in Cameroon. Her strongest memories are of the family's houseboy, ... See full summary »
Isaach De Bankolé,
Denis revisits Africa, this time exploring a place rife with civil and racial conflict. A white French family outlawed in its home and attempting to save its coffee plantation connects with a black hero also embroiled in the tumult. All try to survive as their world rapidly crumbles around them Written by
Pusan International Film Festival
How does a country descend into civil war, and from there, to genocidal slaughter? Some of the most terrible stories of recent years come from Africa (poverty being one obvious driver) and this film, like the more famous 'Hotel Rwanda', is set in such terrain. I personally found the latter film unsatisfactory, as it told a story of basically good people attacked, in effect, by mindless zombies: 'White Material' is better at giving a portrait of life in a society where the pillars of order are crumbling, and thereby offers a more convincing narrative as to how the bonds of normal human decency might break. It also offers an interesting perspective by looking at events from the viewpoint of white farmers: not evil per se (although the film doesn't make them particularly sympathetic), but owning too many resources in a land that sees that claim to title as rooted in the colonial past. What doesn't work, for me, is the particular plot: while the mood of the characters, and of their world, is well created, the details of the situation remain unclear: who does what to who, and why, remains frustratingly enigmatic. Isabelle Huppert is good in the lead role; but the absence of a black African in a role of matching prominence is arguably a weakness, the murder goes on and the explanation is never quite forthcoming. Perhaps that's asking too much of a mere movie: if the explanation was obvious, the world would not have to endure so much pointless suffering.
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