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White Material (2009)

Not Rated | | Drama | 24 March 2010 (France)
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1:45 | Trailer
Amidst turmoil and racial conflict in a Francophone African state, a white French woman fights for her coffee crop, her family and ultimately for her life.

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(scenario), (scenario) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
André Vial (as Christophe Lambert)
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...
Chérif, le maire
...
Henri Vial, le propriétaire
...
Adèle Ado ...
Lucie, la femme d'André
Ali Barkai ...
Jeep, le chef des enfants rebelles
Jean-Marie Ahanda
Martin Poulibe
Patrice Eya
Serge Mong
Mama Njouam
Thomas Dumerchez
Christine-Ange Tatah
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Spellbinding! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

24 March 2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Biala Afryka  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,613, 21 November 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$302,819, 30 January 2011
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene where Maria goes into her son's bedroom to wake him up was written intentionally long, with numerous throwaway lines, so that it could be cut way down during editing. According to director Claire Denis, Isabelle Huppert's line readings were so precise and meaningful that they ended up not cutting a single word. See more »

Goofs

The position of the goat's head in the coffee beans changes between shots. See more »

Connections

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.13 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Jah Give Us Life (Don't Feel No Way)
Written by W. Matthews
Performed by Wailing Souls
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User Reviews

 
A war-torn Africa populated by cardboard cut-out characters
6 March 2011 | by See all my reviews

Chaos reigns in some nameless, war-torn African nation that seems to be a mishmash of various failed states on that continent. A murderous rag-tag guerrilla group searches the jungle wilderness for its charismatic wounded leader The Boxer, while some equally ruthless government soldiers try to hunt him down. As the signs of war multiply, The Boxer finds a hiding place in some deserted outbuildings at the Vial coffee plantation which has been abandoned by its terrified workers. Fear surrounds the decaying French-owned estate where Maria Vial resides with her ex-husband Andre, their dissolute half-mad son and her hated father-in-law. Maria ignores warnings to leave and fixates neurotically on an unharvested coffee crop, while Andre conspires to arrange secret deals with the sinister local mayor to hand over the property in exchange for safe passage out of the country.

Director Denis makes no attempt to explore her characters, their relationships or the stories behind their present condition - apparently she is satisfied with documenting the surface symptoms of communal meltdown. She focuses on Maria, but reveals nothing about her heroine except for the infuriating obsession with the neglected coffee beans. All the other characters possess similarly opaque, one-dimensional personalities - the Europeans are reduced to stereotypes of colonial decadence, while the Africans are portrayed as bloodthirsty and venal. When the film culminates in an orgy of capricious madness and violence it's impossible to care about anyone's fate, because it's been obvious for a tediously long while that it's all a metaphor, and the participants are merely symbolic cardboard cut-outs.


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