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... See full summary »
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,
Having packed up her possessions to move in with her lover, Laure is more unsettled than she appears. Needing to get out and have a change of scenery, she jumps in her car to go to have ... See full summary »
Hélène de Saint-Père
Teenage siblings Nenette and Boni were raised apart as a result of their parents' divorce. Their mother, who doted on her son Boni, has died. He works for an interesting couple as a pizza ... See full summary »
Shane and June Brown are an American couple honeymooning in Paris in an effort to nurture their new life together, a life complicated by Shane''s mysterious and frequent visits to a medical... See full summary »
Beautiful Daiga has emigrated from Lithuania to Paris and is looking for a place to stay and work. Theo is a struggling musician, and his brother Camille - a transvestite dancer. One of ... See full summary »
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
The role played here by Isabelle Huppert is not dissimilar to the lead character in Doris Lessing's 1950 novel "The Grass is Singing". Huppert always wanted to play that part but Karen Black beat her to it when she appeared in Michael Raeburn's 1981 adaptation. See more »
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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