Saturday, 12 September 2009
Venice 2009: White Material
Set in an unnamed African country where Isabelle Huppert's coffee plantation owner struggles to harvest her crop and hold on to her land as a civil war rages around her, Claire Denis' complex, atmospheric film represents a return to the subject matter of her debut, Chocolat, namely French colonials in Africa. Headstrong and ruthlessly driven, Huppert's Maria doesn't exactly engender much sympathy as she ignores calls from the retreating French army to leave, putting her extended family at risk for the sake of the harvest and her dependence on the land, ultimately unable to prevent the inevitable tragedy as the plantation is overrun by child soldiers. Powerful stuff.