white material
January 25, 2011, 7:31 pm
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: , , , ,

Claire Denis’ film White Material is an enormous dry African landscape; huge pictures and intimate details of landscape and war and family masterfully assembled; petty vicious politics and the immediacy of real people making life altering decisions in real time; quiet crescendo threat of civil violence; and a sense of dread that grips and tightens until the very end.

The geographic and generational center of the film is Marie a fierce slight French woman intent on keeping her Cafe Vail coffee plantation operational.  Like a vortex, everything spirals inward toward her and it.  The injured militant called the Boxer (Isaac de Bankole) on the lam takes refuge there to slowly bleed to death.  He is the local hero, and the de facto head of the militant insurrection, a band of child soldiers armed with machetes who are causing mayhem on their circuitous route toward him.

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