7.0/10
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24 user 125 critic

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:

In the African heat, one woman stands alone See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title comes from the rebels' description of the white people and their possessions. See more »

Goofs

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

Connections

Referenced in The Limits of Control (2009) 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

 
Tense and depressing but classy
16 October 2009 | by See all my reviews

White Material is a troubling film that reminded me of Francis Ford Coppola's reading of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, i.e. not as psychological allegory but as fable for pertinent updating. The story revolves around the central figure of Marie, a white European African farm owner, who blindly refuses to acknowledge the danger of increasingly volatile local social unrest. Claire Denis spins a grander web from this precarious situation, invoking the precarious relationships that Marie supports and connects: a one-woman lynch-pin of love, industry and care.

I have not seen the recent Home or Gabrielle, to name two well-received recent performances from Huppert, but for me this is a very significant, form performance from the celebrated French actress. It is her sort of role to be sure: realist, serious, preoccupied, veiled. In addition I enjoyed her free physicality and lack of self-consciousness, helped no doubt by Denis' free camera-work, which often involves chasing Huppert around (her character is driving the film so Denis allows her to literally pull the action along).

Space is created for Marie's son to become the terminally dysfunctional, un-rooted wreck that others allude to, although he inspires no pity. Christopher Lambert, the father, is a marginal but clearly a more urbane figure whose absence tells you all you need to know about his relationship to the work-centred Marie. The supporting cast of native Africans are, unusually, all very good (in location films, there are often a number of local 'actors' who don't live up to the description) notably William Nadylam's Chérif with his Ejiofor-like self-possession and stillness. This film also has the distinction of having the most nausea-inducing child-murder sequence I've ever seen - or, more to the point, heard. 7/10


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