White Material2010 Drama
Claire Denis' long-awaited return to Africa, 21 years after her debut with Chocolat. In a considerably darker vein than her recent 35 Shots of Rum, the film is set in an African country in the throes of a volatile regime change. Isabelle Huppert plays Maria, a woman determined to keep her coffee plantation functioning even while social structures are collapsing and her workforce is baling out. But her ex-husband (Christophe Lambert) is making his own plans, while their layabout adult son Manuel (Nicolas Duvauchelle) is pretty much useless -- and soon considerably worse than useless. Meanwhile, a rebel officer (long-term Denis regular Isaach de Bankolé) is hiding out nearby. A characteristically fragmented structure thickens the sense of urgency and impending apocalypse, and Huppert, with a restrained intensity entirely her own, plays the heroine teetering on the edge of the volcano. Denis's regular collaborator Stuart Staples adds a moody, throbbing score, while her script partner this time is novelist Marie N'Diaye, one of France's edgiest contemporary writers. All in all, an unmissable combination from one of France's finest.