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White Material
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Reviews & Ratings for
White Material More at IMDbPro »

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10 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

White woman's burden

8/10
Author: stensson from Stockholm, Sweden
5 August 2010

In an unknown African country, a civil war is going on. This French woman refuses to escape. She wants to save the coffee.

There's movie horror and there's real horror and this comes close to the later one. But it doesn't escalate, it's latent all the time, until the final eruption.

What's more important is however what's on trial here. It's not colonialism or greed or prejudices. More than so, it's The White Mother, who is rebelled, not only by her son, but by being determined, by not giving up, by not fearing. The key line is when she says to her son: -"I will never let you go". Interesting.

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27 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

Worst movie seen in along time

3/10
Author: bobbobwhite from san ramon ca
20 December 2010

Just an awful and unengaging French movie about murderous civil war in a backward African country, about a coffee plantation owner's wife trying to get her coffee crop harvested in the middle of a violent civil war(what!!!) that has severely disrupted everything and put everyone's life in danger, and especially her family. What resulted is a confused mess of a critic's darling film that regular viewers will hate or not see, which is more likely, as always. This film will do no business in America, and surely will do poorly even in France. It is that bad and worse than many amateur's cheap docu-dramas.

Chopped up and haphazard editing("this is art")led to poor story continuity, flashbacks and flash forwards were thrown in without any sense of story progression or sense, and phone-it-in, very bland "acting" by the lead, played by Isabelle Huppert, made this the worst, should-have-been-good movie I have paid to see in ages, and I dearly love French films. The only thing good about it was the cinematography, and that was even much less than it should have been for a film made in wondrously beautiful Africa.

Isabelle Huppert showed an emotional range here of A to B and no more. No matter what was happening, bad to worse to worst, her face showed no emotion and was as relaxed as if she were strolling along the Seine, and her calm voice also reflected no emotion no matter that her world was crumbling around her. Plus, the oblique and foggy acting technique of the entire cast, obviously done at the filmmaker's "creative" insistence, did little to clarify or explain anything before or during the crisis they were in, and as was probably said at the time, "Hey, this is an art film! Anything goes." A good story well told instead would have been far superior and actually meant something.

See this failure of a film if you want to see a clueless French woman constantly wondering around rural Africa with a confused look on her face while making some of the most stupid decisions one could make with her life on the line, and that of her family. And the chopped off, abrupt ending left us smack in the middle of the mess and led nowhere. What a disappointment this film was in every way possible. It could have really said something of interest, instead of boring us to death. We can get that for free.

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11 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

more myths of the dark continent

3/10
Author: trpuk1968 from United Kingdom
5 September 2010

White Material promotes the idea of Africa as 'heart of darkness'. Having the action take place in an 'unnamed African country' has the effect of making the entire continent a locus for every kind of depravity and evil, because this could be 'anywhere and everywhere' on the continent. Giving no historical, social or political context for the events which unfold situates them outside of any framework and has the effect of portraying Africans as irrational: a racist discourse which has been sustained since the eighteenth century and on, when justifications had to be found firstly for slavery and then later on for colonial exploitation. I hope I ve read this film wrong because I enjoyed Denis' other film 35 Shots of Rum and, although I ve not seen it, I heard her film Chocolat is empathetic towards Africans.

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