Isabelle Huppert plays Maria Vial, a white, coffee plantation owner in an unnamed central African country deep in the throes of political and social upheaval. Through a series of harrowing encounters, Maria is faced with a choice: to flee a populace, many of them young, who seek retribution and the expulsion of her and her family, or to stay and protect all that she knows, however fleeting that may prove. Employing the laconic observational style developed over her twenty-plus-year career, tensions mount until explosive inevitability. “With grave tenderness, Denis reminds us that these murderous, tragically lost boys and girls are still children, a gesture that doesn’t restore their humanity—which she has no right to restore—so much as remind you of the humanity that’s so easily forgotten.”—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times (106 mins.)
WHITE MATERIAL screens on Sunday, May 12 at 7p.m. in our Whitsell Auditorium (located in the Portland Art Museum). The film is being presented as part of our Claire Denis retrospective, THE LYRICAL SPACE OF CLAIRE DENIS.