In White Material, the great contemporary French filmmaker Claire Denis, known for her restless, intimate dramas, introduces an unforgettably crazed character. Played ferociously by Isabelle Huppert, Maria is an entitled white woman living in Africa, desperately unwilling to give up her family’s crumbling coffee plantation despite the civil war closing in on her. Created with Denis’ signature full-throttle visual style, which places the viewer in the center of the maelstrom, White Material is a gripping evocation of the death throes of European colonialism and a fascinating look at a woman lost in her own mind. –The Criterion Collection
A provocative director whose films offer richly textured, contemplative examinations of cross-cultural tensions and alienation, Claire Denis is one of French cinema’s most distinctive and humanistic storytellers. A prolific filmmaker who is more concerned with the drive of her characters rather than the plot that weaves them together, she has been dubbed by one critic as one of the only current French directors who “has been able to reconcile the lyricism of French cinema with the impulse to capture the often harsh face of contemporary France.”
Born in Paris on April 21, 1948, Denis, the daughter of a civil servant, was raised in a series of African countries until she was 14, when her family returned to France. She learned about filmmaking as an assistant to a number of notable directors, including Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire), Jim Jarmusch (Down by Law), and Costa-Gavras (Hanna K.). She made her directorial and screenwriting debut in 1988 with Chocolat, a lush exploration… read more
Isabel Huppert clings to her decaying coffee plantation in the Congo while child soldiers emerge from the forests and Government troops slash and kill their way through villages. She has to contend with a dysfunctional son like Kevin and a husband that crumbles. It is a harsh film to endure, grainy and stays with you for day's.
Just saw it again. Wow. Still a 5-star film. The score really stood out this time around.
Astonishingly powerful and intelligently complex, this multidimensional work from Denis is proof what an interesting story and a storyteller unafraid to take risks can do. With its structure all over the place, a knockout performance from Isabelle Huppert and a smartly balanced approach to the question of colonialism and its effects, White Material stands as one of the best works of its year. Fantastic filmmaking.
"African cinema is generally woefully overlooked by the West, and the filmmaking being done in Republic of Chad has been particularly invisible
The Constellation record label provides an intoxicating hint at its upcoming 5 disc boxset of music by Tindersticks (and, presumably, the solo
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At its essence, White Material is an exploded chamber drama. A Haneke-style family unit (complete with a brutally bored son) holed up mentally
Claire Denis has not always been well served by her poster artists. Oddly, for a director who has made some of the most beautiful, sensual
Every now and then, Isabelle Huppert is suddenly everywhere and here we are again. She's on the cover of the new Film Comment and she's in
"Depending on who's watching, a better title for Great Directors might be A Few Great Directors and Some Highly Competent Ones
Above: Todd Solondz's new film, Life in Wartime. White Material (Claire Denis, France) As with a lot of still-young, experimental filmmakers
A discussion with the French director on her Isabelle Hupper-starring White Material.
Like Toronto, the New York Film Festival is one for which it's not only possible, but also hopefully helpful to write up an index before
No one wants to applaud a filmmaker from moving away from the opaque, the ambiguous, and the open to something more easily defined
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans (Werner Herzog, USA): This delightful observation has already been spoiled by the quasi-trailer
"Most of us at Reverse Shot are enamored of Claire Denis, so it was only a matter of time before we devoted a symposium to her, for
I have now seen Claire Denis’ devastating film twice. At first glance, I felt like I had missed the political context and ostensibly the point of the film. I wrote the film off as a “message movie”… read review
Cinema has rarely treated colonialism with an objective eye. Instant disdain has been nothing short of what’s been expected in a society hellbent on correcting wrongs of the past by hurting the present… read review
Oh the syncopated web we weave. And while that phrase has nothing to do with this film, it was fun and pretty to write. Kind of like the whim that these white, French aristocrats have when deciding… read review