White Material is a film about a coffee plantation in an unnamed African country (shot in Cameroon). Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert) runs the place for her father Henri (Michel Subor). She has a layabout son called Manuel (Nicolas Duvauchelle) and a weak-willed husband André (played by Christopher Lambert of Highlander fame).The French army is withdrawing and the country is fractured into regular army, rebels, and newly-formed mad-dog local militias out for rape and pillage, sprung from the ground once law and order dissolves, like Ray Harryhausen's skeleton warriors of the dragon's teeth (Jason and the Argonauts).It's time to banish the White Material, that is white folk and the trappings of white living. Maria doesn't want to know though and stays on stubbornly trying to process her coffee crop.The film is quite pretty and captures the feel of Africa on the ground, of the isolation and the wild beauty, but also the extreme lurking danger. Denis has roots in Af…
excerpt, more at my location – In Claire Denis' White Material (shot in Cameroon), themes of colonialism and rebellion collide within the context of an unspecified African nation. The film is, at times, deeply disturbing and shocking, and marks Denis' filmmaking return to Africa (after previously studying themes of African colonialism in films such as her 1988 directorial debut Chocolat) whilst drawing on real-life experiences of growing up in the continent.White Material is a worthwhile and thought-provoking film, even if it does not quite reach the full sum of its parts. Isabelle Huppert is intriguingly complex and engaging in the central performance, with Nicholas Duvauchelle also shining in a difficult role as a young man descending into darkness.
In an unknown African country, a civil war is going on. This French woman refuses to escape. She wants to save the coffee.There's movie horror and there's real horror and this comes close to the later one. But it doesn't escalate, it's latent all the time, until the final eruption.What's more important is however what's on trial here. It's not colonialism or greed or prejudices. More than so, it's The White Mother, who is rebelled, not only by her son, but by being determined, by not giving up, by not fearing. The key line is when she says to her son: -"I will never let you go". Interesting.
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