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WHITE MATERIAL

Director: CLAIRE DENIS

100 minutes| France-Cameroon| 2009| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema


An unnamed French outpost in West Africa is the setting for this vividly observed portrait of a woman whose determination knows no bounds, as Isabelle Huppert forms a dream-team partnership with maverick director Claire Denis. Predictably different from the seasoned warmth of Denis’ last offering, 35 Shots of Rum, this is a compellingly nervy affair, which begins with Huppert’s coffee planter in some distress as she returns to her property in the midst of a civil war, then doubles back to reveal a more complex and troubling overview on racial, political and familial relations.
Denis spent her formative years moving across Africa with her family, and while her affectionate knowledge of this turbulent landscape is certainly evident, she pulls no punches in showing imperious white intransigence eaten away from within. Huppert is excellent, steely as ever, but the real surprise is a ravaged-looking Christophe Lambert, brilliantly cast as a French landowner gone to seed. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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