White Material

Feature Film | FR, CMR 2009 | 106’ | OV with English subs

Not for the first time in Claire Denis’ oeuvre, WHITE MATERIAL delves more or less directly into the original sins of France’s colonial past that still cast their shadows on the present. Starring Isabelle Huppert in the leading role, this film reprises the cinematic look at the black continent of the director’s debut feature, CHOCOLAT. Maria (Huppert) runs an African coffee plantation as if France were still around to protect her there, while her own interactions with the remnants of a family largely resemble the spooky shuffling of a haunted soul. The situation becomes truly menacing when simmering unrest in the country erupts into open civil war. Its brutal reality threatens to consume her personally, too. Why she stays is one of the mysteries never resolved by Denis. The film leaves open whether Euro-centric arrogance is the driving force that leads her characters to believe that the inferno instigated by La Grande Nation decades ago is of no concern to them, or whether the film’s antihero willingly accepts potential violence against her as punishment for the sins of her forebearers.

Director
Claire Denis
Cast
Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle, William Nadylam, Michel Subor
Script
Claire Denis, Marie N'Diaye
Producer
Pascal Caucheteux
Photography
Yves Cape
Editor: Guy Lecorne
Guy Lecorne
Sound
Jean-Paul Mugel, Christophe Winding
Production Design
Abiassi Saint-Père
Costumes
Judy Shrewsbury
Casting
Richard Rousseau

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Selected filmography Claire Denis

CHOCOLAT (1988), NÉNETTE ET BONI (1996), TROUBLE EVERY DAY (2001), THE INTRUDER (2004), LES SALAUDS (2013)