Director: Claire Denis
Year Released: 1988
Denis' examination of white-black relations/mores in Africa is leisurely paced to the point of actually being boring - there are too many random, uninteresting pieces and no cohesive storyline. The core 'plot': a French woman, her daughter and their African-American slave live in middle of nowhere; a platonic bond grows between the slave and the daughter, a sexual one between the slave and the woman. A lot of nonsense happens in-between - a plane goes down, the mostly black region becomes infected with obnoxiously evil white folk who slur racial remarks and act like stereotypical bigots ... meanwhile, the tension between the woman and the slave increases (if that can be called 'tension' ... there are only a handful of short scenes with the two). The best part of the first hour: the scene where the girl eats an ant sandwich; the best part of the second hour: the fight between the slave and a long-haired Frenchman. The key to appreciating the film comes from taking your own knowledge of human sexuality and extremely subtle body language and applying it to the sparse framework Denis gives you. If I want beautiful scenery and exotic locales, I'll watch the Discovery Channel. The best film I have ever seen about the truth of slavery is Mandingo, which is, despite being flamboyant, and considered by critics as high camp and a glorified soap opera, a worthy rental. Spike Lee's adroit Jungle Fever is also much better.