White Material

Director: Claire Denis
Year Released: 2009
Rating: 2.0

A headstrong and foolish coffee plantation owner in Africa (Isabelle Huppert) ignores all the blatant, obvious and urgent signs to leave the country and return to France - like the rebels running around with machetes and machine guns, for example - and instead sticks around and keeps working those beans. Like many of Denis' films, this one is fragmented and vague - perhaps to mask its inherent shallowness - and plays loose with psychology: Huppert's son isn't fully formed as a character to explain his transformation (you'd think someone victimized by the rebels would go after them instead of join them ... Stockholm Syndrome, perhaps?), and Huppert's own motivations seem to boil down to a single important flashback (also, why can't anyone get Isaach De Bankolé a frickin' doctor?). The politics - Africa's got real, real bad problems and there are real, real bad racial conflicts - should not come as a surprise to most.