[critical] White Material

Somewhere in Africa, in a region plagued by civil war, Maria refuses to abandon her coffee plantation before the end of the harvest, despite the threat to her and hers.

Author’s Note


Release Date : march 24, 2010

Directed by Claire Denis

Film French

With Isabelle Huppert, Isaach de Bankolé, Christophe Lambert

Duration : 1h 42min

Trailer :

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Look at a movie like the White Material may have something terribly frustrating at first sight. When you look at the trailer, one expects a umpteenth film about a genocide lost in the depths of Africa, a film based only on gory scenes to a desire to draw the viewer in lack of images-shock. Go see White Material only for these reasons would be a terrible mistake because the film is light years from what the trailer we promised.

The first observation is that White Material is a film where the dialogues can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The film of Claire Denis emphasizes the great moments of silence where the camera is fixed on the emotions of the protagonists rather than on rhetoric. The fact, a certain poetry emanates from the film, and poetry, to which is added a photograph sumptuous which draws on the roots of Africa, to return to us in the face to our Human condition. In this sense, Claire Denis has had the ingenuity to take of the actors ‘mouths” who imprison us in their magnetism to interpret these beings to be fragile and unstable. We, therefore, find Isabelle Hupert that, although some will scream that the actress was confined now to the same roles, has nothing lost of its power of attraction, Christophe Lambert, which is gaining credibility at the same time that he takes to the bottle, Nicolas Duvauchelle and Isaach De Bankolé to close this quartet of head.

Another interesting point is that White Material does not fall into the ease of the bias in demonizing such a person, or by transferring another to a martyr. Here nothing of this, because the scenario focuses only on the white family struggling to re-establish their coffee plantation is located in the middle of a land increasingly hostile to them. No honeyed unwanted or escalation of feelings as can be found in films such as Shooting Dogs or Hotel Rwanda, just a succession of facts leading us to a tragic fate. This bias of the filmmaker is to his credit and makes his film so intelligent that deep.

In the end, White Material is a drama of a very beautiful humanity, a drama that takes guts and that makes us travel to the heart of Man, the heart of its strengths as its weaknesses without half-measure. A beautiful achievement that deserves a look.

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