Close Up

20 - 23 July 2019: White Material


White Material
Claire Denis, 2009, 106 min, 15
French with English subtitles

"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." – The Cinematheque

Part of our season on Claire Denis