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White Material DVD

Claire Denis, 2009


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1 Review // 3 Lists

Film Details

Directed by Claire Denis

Produced in 2009

Main Language - French with English subtitles

Countries & Regions - European Film, French Film, African Film

MovieMail's Review

White Material follows Isabelle Huppert’s desperate struggle to hold her African plantation together amidst civil war. Mike McCahill is swept away by Claire Denis’ acclaimed drama.

One of 2010’s most acclaimed dramas, White Material unfolds around a coffee plantation in an unnamed African state, overseen by Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert).

With civil war breaking out and her ex-husband threatening to sell up, Maria strives to keep the business running, ignoring the peacekeepers’ advice to leave before the rebels arrive. There’s already been one prominent arrival: The Boxer (Isaach de Bankolé), a local hero stalling for time to recover from a bullet to the gut.

Claire Denis’ filmmaking, sensory and experiential, concerns itself less with narrative propulsion than with what it is to be in particular places at particular times. Her sensibility is wholly cinematic: one late sequence – as the workers settle in on the ranch as night falls, aware they may face the possibility of violent death before dawn – could, subtitles aside, be lifted wholesale from any Western.

Neither slandering nor exoticising the continent, Denis views Africa less as heart of darkness than a home like any other. The question this searching and engrossing film poses is: whose home?

Mike McCahill on 13th October 2010
Author of 357 reviews

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Film Description

A powerful drama centred around a family of white French settlers in Africa, White Material finds coffee plantation owner Henri Vial (Michel Subor), his son Andre (Christophe Lambert) and his ex-wife Marie (Isabelle Huppert) caught up in the turmoil of a rapidly disintegrating political situation. Refusing to acknowledge the danger of the social unrest that has now reached boiling point in their adopted homeland, they joinn forces with a black rebel army hero who is also embroiled in the tumult. Soon, the Vials are fighting to survive as their world rapidly crumbles around them.

DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Publisher: Artificial Eye

Length: 100 mins

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen

Format: DVD Colour

Region: 2

Released: 6th December 2010

Cat No: ART500DVD

Subtitles: English

DVD Extras

  • Interviews: Claire Denis and Christophe Lambert

Film Stills

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