Tuesday, March 8, 2011

White Material

A woman waits near the side of the road somewhere in Africa (we never find out which country). A packed bus stops to give her a lift, and as she hangs off the rear ladder we notice the muscle definition in her arms and realize we are dealing with a tough cookie. She returns home to her coffee plantation where she deals with rebel forces threatening the property and intimidating her workers, her ex-husband trying to sell the land, and her layabout son becoming something even worse. She then goes on to make matters worse by sheltering a rebel hero whom the government is looking for. White Material is a perplexing movie. I liked the way its disjointed and clear story came together although I felt that a story of this nature should have been told with a little more urgency. Either way, it is still a starkly and beautifully drawn film, wonderfully directed by French director Clare Denis (35 Shots of Rum) and given further weight by Isabelle Hupert's (The Piano Teacher) sturdy performance.