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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 themWritten by
Pusan International Film Festival
A war-torn Africa populated by cardboard cut-out characters
Chaos reigns in some nameless, war-torn African nation. 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 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 obsesses over the unharvested coffee crop, while Andre conspires 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 satisfied with documenting the surface symptoms of communal meltdown. She focuses on Maria, but reveals nothing about her heroine except for the foolish fixation on the neglected coffee beans. All the other characters possess similarly 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 it's impossible to care about anyone's fate, because it's obvious they are symbols existing in a metaphor. Denis doesn't appear to care either.
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