White Material

2009 Drama

In this drama directed and co-written by Claire Denis, Isabelle Huppert plays Maria, a white French expatriate living in an African nation that has fallen into political chaos. Maria owns a coffee plantation, and regards her property as her personal domain; she's not about to give up her land, though her stubborn attitude prevents her from admitting that she's putting those close to her in danger, or even acknowledging the gravity of her situation. Maria has two children with her former husband, André (Christopher Lambert), a young adopted boy and dissatisfied twentysomething Manuel (Nicolas Duvauchelle). André is deeply concerned for the safety of Maria and their sons, and has made plans for her and the boys to flee to Europe, but Maria insists that the military will protect her and the others in the area, a belief that seems to be fueled by arrogance rather than fact. White Material received its North American premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. more..

Director: Claire Denis

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Isaach de Bankolé, Christopher Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle, William Nadylam


  • It's a portrait, by turns chilling, thrilling, mysterious and terrifying, of a woman who refuses to be terrorized.

    Joe Morgenstern - The Wall Street Journal

    11 May 2013

  • French mood-and-feeling master filmmaker Claire Denis returns to the Africa of her youth for an intense, mysterious drama exploring revolution and loss.

    Lisa Schwarzbaum - Entertainment Weekly

    11 May 2013

  • This is a beautiful, puzzling film. The enigmatic quality of Huppert's performance draws us in.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    11 May 2013

  • Yet in the end it's less the climactic madness and mayhem in White Material that sear the memory than it is the silent, balletic creep of child soldiers, grabbed out of school and sent with machetes and rifles through a forest to exact revenge for decades of repression.

    Ella Taylor - NPR

    11 May 2013

  • Denis creates the threat of imminent danger through stillness and austerity rather than action. She's helped immeasurably by an astringent, fully committed performance from her leading lady, a gaunt, impossibly resolute Isabelle Huppert.

    - The Hollywood Reporter

    11 May 2013


  • Top Five Foreign Films

    National Board of Review (2010)

  • Best Foreign Language Film

    National Society of Film Critics Awards (2011)

  • Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language Film

    Satellite Awards (2010)

  • Claire Denis

    Venice Film Festival (2009)

  • Best Foreign Language Film

    Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards (2010)