White Material (15)

Directed by Claire Denis
Written by Claire Denis and Marie N’Diaye
Screening at FACT from 16th July to 22nd July 2010

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a tense and suspenseful contemporary drama set in a unnamed African country, with the army at war with rebel militias.

The absorbing story, impressively directed by Claire Denis (who was raised in colonial Africa) revolves around Marie (Isabelle Huppert), a white French woman bravely trying to keep operating the coffee plantation she manages while chaos closes in around her and her family.

All her workers have deserted her, her husband (Christopher Lambert) sells the plantation to the local mayor without her knowledge and her bone-idle son Manuel (Nicolas Duvauchelle) flips his lid and becomes a deranged bonehead with murderous intent in his heart.

But despite all these odds stacked against Marie her resolution is unwavering - it is her firm belief that this is her home, so she should not leave, perhaps naively.

The chaos taking place is palpable, with even hordes of young kids running amok with guns. There is no respect for anyone or anything - the corrupt system has finally imploded.

The final scenes showing the army taking savage revenge on the warrior kids are horrific - particularly when a soldier slits the throat of a kid with a machete without even a moment of deliberation.

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