7.0/10
5,141
23 user 127 critic

White Material (2009)

Not Rated | | Drama | 24 March 2010 (France)
Trailer
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.

Director:

Writers:

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

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An intimate, picaresque inquiry into French life as lived by the country's poor and its provident, as well as by the film's own director, Agnes Varda. The aesthetic, political and moral ... See full summary »

Director: Agnès Varda
Stars: François Wertheimer, Agnès Varda, Bodan Litnanski
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Over the summer, a series of unfortunate happening triggers a financial crisis for a young woman and she soon finds her life falling apart.

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Stars: Michelle Williams, Lucy, David Koppell
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most culturally diverse communities in the US where 167 languages are spoken. IN JACKSON HEIGHTS explores the conflict between maintaining ties to old traditions and adapting to American values.

Director: Frederick Wiseman
L'enfant (2005)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Bruno and Sonia, a young couple living off her benefit and the thefts committed by his gang, have a new source of money: their newborn son.

Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Stars: Jérémie Renier, Déborah François, Jérémie Segard
Tian zhu ding (2013)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Four independent stories set in modern China about random acts of violence.

Director: Zhangke Jia
Stars: Wu Jiang, Baoqiang Wang, Tao Zhao
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Three stories set in three times, 1911, 1966 and 2005. Two actors play the two main characters in each story.

Director: Hsiao-Hsien Hou
Stars: Qi Shu, Chen Chang, Fang Mei
Beau travail (1999)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

This film focuses on an ex-Foreign Legion officer as he recalls his once glorious life, leading troops in Africa.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Denis Lavant, Michel Subor, Grégoire Colin
Silent Light (2007)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In a Mennonite community in Mexico, a father's faith is tested when he falls in love with a new woman.

Director: Carlos Reygadas
Stars: Cornelio Wall, Miriam Toews, Maria Pankratz
Timbuktu (2014)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A cattle herder and his family who reside in the dunes of Timbuktu find their quiet lives -- which are typically free of the Jihadists determined to control their faith -- abruptly disturbed.

Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
Stars: Ibrahim Ahmed, Abel Jafri, Toulou Kiki
Yi Yi (2000)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Each member of a middle class Taipei family seeks to reconcile past and present relationships within their daily lives.

Director: Edward Yang
Stars: Nien-Jen Wu, Elaine Jin, Issei Ogata
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The relationship between a father and daughter is complicated by the arrival of a handsome young man.

Director: Claire Denis
Stars: Alex Descas, Mati Diop, Nicole Dogué
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Mr. Lazarescu, a 63 year old lonely man feels sick and calls the ambulance. When it arrives, the paramedic decides he should take him to the hospital but once there they decide to send him ... See full summary »

Director: Cristi Puiu
Stars: Ion Fiscuteanu, Luminita Gheorghiu, Doru Ana
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
André Vial (as Christophe Lambert)
...
...
...
...
Adèle Ado ...
Lucie, la femme d'André
Ali Barkai ...
Jean-Marie Ahanda
Martin Poulibe
Patrice Eya
Serge Mong
Mama Njouam
Thomas Dumerchez
Christine-Ange Tatah
Edit

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:

Searing and Beautiful! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

24 March 2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Biala Afryka  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£23,285 (UK) (9 July 2010)

Gross:

$302,819 (USA) (28 January 2011)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Has some sense of Africa but feels like a lot was left on the cutting room floor
5 July 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

White Material is a film about a coffee plantation in an unnamed African country (shot in Cameroon). Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert) runs the place for her father Henri (Michel Subor). She has a layabout son called Manuel (Nicolas Duvauchelle) and a weak-willed husband André (played by Christopher Lambert of Highlander fame).

The French army is withdrawing and the country is fractured into regular army, rebels, and newly-formed mad-dog local militias out for rape and pillage, sprung from the ground once law and order dissolves, like Ray Harryhausen's skeleton warriors of the dragon's teeth (Jason and the Argonauts).

It's time to banish the White Material, that is white folk and the trappings of white living. Maria doesn't want to know though and stays on stubbornly trying to process her coffee crop.

The film is quite pretty and captures the feel of Africa on the ground, of the isolation and the wild beauty, but also the extreme lurking danger. Denis has roots in Africa and so manages a lot of authenticity. The dialogue is occasionally awesome, soliloquies in which Maria curses whites and talks about Africa in relation to Europe particularly stand out.

Unfortunately I think there are weak elements, Lambert isn't good enough and his character isn't even necessary (which goes for Henri too), Maria does something brutal and inexplicable at the end (in true clichéd Huppert style), and the film looks like it took a severe amount of cutting as there are plot threads that are barely picked up. The film has the feel of an overly condensed epic. The biggest problem though maybe the narrative structure, where the end occurs at the beginning, which in all frankness, and with due respect to a director who has entertained me with great films more than once, comes off as amateurish.

As usual the Tindersticks provide a wonderful soundtrack for Denis, so important for an auteur to have a proper musical collaborator, but they basically paper over the cracks.

The film is good enough if you just look at is as mesmerising anarchy, but it's not a multi-faceted Denis masterpiece. Isaach De Bankolé is underused as Le Boxeur, the rebel hero general, he's a symbol of a strong moral Africa, gut-shot and dying alone. This character lingers in the memory.


23 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?