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White Material

France 2009. Dir: Claire Denis. 106 min. 35mm

IMPORTED 35mm PRINT! A towering masterpiece in modern cinema, the much-exalted White Material returned Denis to her conflicted West African roots to stage an incendiary study of postcolonial insurrection. Set in a nameless African country at the onset of civil war, Denis’s gripping drama sees Maria (Isabelle Huppert), an entitled white Frenchwoman, refusing to evacuate the coffee plantation she runs with her estranged husband (Christopher Lambert). In denial of the violence erupting around her, Maria cajoles a nervous new workforce to complete the harvest. Her adult son, meanwhile, slips into madness. Bruno Dumont DP Yves Cape, replacing an unavailable Agnès Godard, brilliantly exploits the blanching effects of an unsparing African sun. Huppert, in a tailor-made role, balances fury, fear, and aching sadness with predictable aplomb. “A nightmare from which no one awakes ... It is the veteran French director’s toughest work” (Amy Taubin, Film Comment). Print courtesy of Institut Français, thanks to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York.



"Dreamy and elliptical in its fractured timeline and visual lyricism, yet so searing and bloody that it’s indelible."

Artforum | full review

"White Material could be her best film since Beau Travail: a disturbing piece of work whose power and grip increase, almost imperceptibly, as the film progresses ... A movie that remains in the mind long after it has finished."

The Guardian | full review